Get Up There: a lifesaving fundraiser

I removed a nasty little bastard, a polyp. But we might have not gotten it all. If you hadn't taken the test when you did, this cancer would have killed you within a year. We need to operate immediately.

I don't remember much about the drive home from the doctor other than crying when I called my wife, and crying when I called my daughter.

A few days later, surgeons removed eighteen inches of my colon. I felt strong and healthy, but sore and shaken. It took about four months to fully recover. Now that we’re into 2019 and have left 2018 in the dust — a scary year for our family and a really eventful, busy year at the photo lab — I’m processing all that happened, and the change in perspective that came along with it.

You were so lucky to have caught that cancer as early as you did, said my doctor.


This is a break from our usual blog posts about the latest cameras, our favourite local photographers, and gallery shows and contests. Since I’m the general manager at Atlantic Photo Supply, I’m calling this my soapbox—after all, the whole Atlantic Photo Supply family supported me through the biggest trial of my life.

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It all started in late November 2015 I was found an unexpected envelope in my mailbox, addressed to me. It was a kit for testing for colon cancer, including a very simple set of instructions and a small bottle along with a little brush. I thought, “Why not? Best do it now instead of procrastinating.” I just wanted to clear off my desk—you never think something like that will save your life. Especially something so random, and so simple. A few minutes later, I had filled in the form, taken a stool sample, and readdressed it to drop off at the post office, complete with the return postage!

Two weeks later, the phone call came from the colon cancer clinic. It was a positive test, and it was time for further screening. And you know what happened after that. A colonoscopy, and then the news that shook my life—and the intervention and surgery that saved it.

It’s all thanks to the Colon Cancer Prevention Program funded and delivered through the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Cancer Care Program. It encourages early detection by sending men and women over 50 in Nova Scotia a free, easy colon testing kit. Early detection saved me. I would not be here today had I not found that envelope in my mail.

On average, one Nova Scotian dies every day from colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is over 90 per cent treatable, if detected at an early stage. (Phewph!) I’ll never forget what this program has done for me, and so my family and I are very happily taking party in a fundraiser that couldn’t be more perfect for this time of year.

GUT—Get Up There!—is one day, one hill, and 200 eager participants. Hiking up and skiing down Ski Wentworth as many times as possible, with one common goal: to prevent this silent killer.

This fantastic event has raised over $400,000 to fight colorectal cancer for the last 10 years. They’ve enabled the QEII to purchase of a transanal endoscopic microsurgery set and funded the promotion of screening kits that were sent to every Nova Scotian over the age of 50. The exact same kit that saved my life.

I am so proud to support them and more than happy to tell my story—let’s encourage more people to get up there! Support our team The Polyp Police with a donation, if you can. I’d be so touched. See you on the slopes!

—Allen