Pressing his hands against a warm cup of tea, sixty-six year old Greg MacLean of Sydney River tells his nurse Margaret a story about his three and a half year old granddaughter, Ella.
As Margaret hooks him up for 3.5 hours of chemotherapy treatment in the Cape Breton Cancer Centre, Greg settles in and has a kind face for the other patients being treated alongside him.
His journey with cancer has been just that; a journey. In 2011, after a routine stool test, Greg was diagnosed with stage one colorectal cancer. While he was surprised by the news, he didn’t worry because he knew it was treatable and that Dr. Critchley would walk with him during his illness. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Greg was feeling good.
His eyes lower as he speaks about the day in November of 2012 when he received the news he had never wanted to hear.
The cancer had spread into his liver and his lungs.
The doctors told him that typically patients in his case would live for 24 months.
That was the moment Greg describes as his lowest along the journey.
The sun shines brightly through the Cancer Centre’s window as Greg explains, “I never wished it wasn’t me.” His attitude from day one was that whether he looked at life negatively or positively, his diagnosis wouldn’t change. “I always try to look at the good side,” Greg said.
Already past the time that doctors had predicted, Greg has decided to give back to the Cape Breton Cancer Centre. An avid golfer all of his life, Greg is hosting a golf tournament to give back to what he calls, “the best thing to ever happen to Cape Breton”, the Cape Breton Cancer Centre.
Two years and five months after his terminal diagnosis, Greg reaches once again for his tea in the chemotherapy suite in the Cancer Centre as he says, “through it all, I have one goal.”
“While I want to give back and live every day with positivity, my one goal in life is to see my granddaughter attend her first day of school.” Acknowledging that he would never be able to even dream of seeing Ella off on her first day if it wasn’t for the Cancer Centre right here at home, Greg MacLean feels “lucky” to spend his last days where his heart is, at home on the golf course, at home with his wife, and at home, watching Ella grow.