Shaw Chartrand lives his life by a simple motto; ‘you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.’ Shaw believes in it so much, it’s tattooed on his arm.
This lust for life wasn’t always the case for the 43-year-old from Regina. It took a diagnosis of colorectal cancer when he was just 32 to reinforce what’s truly important.
“I don’t take things for granted. I love my family, I love my friends, and we love to travel. We love to experience life. You never know what tomorrow brings, so it’s very important to seize each day,” exclaims Shaw Chartrand.
Colorectal cancer is most common in men and women over the age of 50. Shaw says what lead to him getting checked out was he noticed he was going to the bathroom a lot. He knew something wasn’t right and went to his family doctor.
“My doctor wanted to investigate everything. He was thinking all the way along it was going to be IBS or something to do with my bowels; it couldn’t be the c-word.”
But it was! Shaw admits he was surprised initially, however when he thought about it, he actually wasn’t. His two grandmothers had the disease, and his Dad passed away from bowel cancer two years earlier.
Shaw says his Dad was sick for a long time. It was how his father dealt with cancer that the married father of one was going to draw upon for his own battle.
“I saw how my Dad dealt with the disease just very positive all the time. You would never have known he was fighting for his life,” Shaw says.
His treatment included weeks of radiation, chemotherapy and a prolonged surgery. There would be more chemotherapy afterwards as well. Through it all, he kept focused on getting healthy for his wife and their young son. Helping him through all of this was care teams at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre.
“These people are just doing their jobs but it’s more than that. They’re there holding your hand, telling stories, telling jokes, and they’re trying to save your life at the same time. It’s an unbelievable place,” says Shaw.
Shaw just had his 10-year scan, and he’s doing great. He runs his own general contracting company, and as the tattoo reminds him to, he’s living his life to the fullest.
He’s giving back as well. Shaw volunteers time to visit people in the hospital who had the same surgery he did. He’s also raising money during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, selling shirts and hats to raise awareness about the disease. Proceeds will be donated to the Foundation.
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