Claude, back-row centre, along with Team Big Guy at the Big Walk for Cancer Support
In 2003, at the age of 53, Claude Jacques was diagnosed with prostate cancer. “My dad had died from the same illness about four years prior,” he says. “So I had that in the back of my mind.”
Living with the fallout from that diagnosis was tough on both Claude and his wife, Sharan. “She went through a very hard time. She lost weight, had heart palpitations—-at times she had a tougher time with my diagnosis then I did.
Then in 2014, Claude was once again diagnosed— this time with lymphoma. “It was another blow “as he was heading towards retirement he says. “However this time my wife recognized that we needed help.”
Determined to not go through the experience alone again, Sharan visited Wellspring Chinguacousy to see what help was available. After seeing the many programs and services Wellspring offers for those living with cancer, Sharan went home and convinced her husband that they should both become Wellspring members. “It’s all because of her,” Claude says.
Claude started out with Reiki and Yoga, eventually joining Cancer Exercise and the Lymphoma Support Group, which he still attends today. “It’s valuable to be able to talk with people who are going through the same thing as you,” says Claude, who admits that the group has helped him be more open with his feelings. “It was difficult to walk in,” he says. “But it’s such a warm environment and such a good group of people that it’s worth the effort.”
With the help of strategies and coping skills leaned from the group sessions, Claude says he’s better equipped to deal with the challenges that accompany his diagnosis, such as brain fog and memory loss. “I’m able to bring the things I learn back to my wife, and that really helps us as a family,” he says. “Compared to my first diagnosis, I am much better equipped to manage the challenges associated with cancer”
Claude’s experience at Wellspring made him want to give back, and he was given an opportunity to do just that on September 25th as participant in the Big Walk for Cancer Support, a fundraising event in support of Wellspring Chinguacousy.
Teams of walkers gathered in Chinguacousy Park for a fun-filled day of games, costumes and prizes, everyone brought together by their shared experience with cancer and a common desire to help support Wellspring. The big walkers zoomed past their goal, raising over $55,000 to help people take an active role in their cancer experience.
As head of Team Big Guy, Claude raked in the most donations, totaling $8,001, to help support those with cancer and their families. From the beginning he knew he wanted to lead the pack in fundraising. “I’m a little bit competitive,” says Claude, who played hockey and baseball for many years. “I hate to lose.”
So Claude made some calls. “I used to travel for work in the United States, so I knew quite a few people,” he says. Soon donations came pouring in from friends and colleagues from California, North Carolina, Tennessee , Texas and Massachusetts. “It was from a lot of people I’d met, had dinner or played golf with over the years,” he says. “When I sent an email requesting donations, they all quickly said they wanted to help.”
Family and friends from Montreal and Toronto also supported the walk and through his wife , Claude received donations from family in England and India. It was truly a gobal effort.
Claude also relied on team members like his sister-in-law Sam, who raised $ 2,025 by fundraising in her workplace. “Everyone on her team respects her, so they wanted to help,” says Claude.
For the Big Walk itself, the team was out in full force. “My niece, and nephew came to walk too, and they were encouraging me to walk fast: ‘come on Uncle Claude, let’s go!’ It was a fun day and I’m happy I could be there to help out Wellspring, who has helped me immensely”.