Trevor Sutter has just come through one of the scariest and most difficult times in his life.
Earlier this year, the 56-year-old Regina resident finished up his treatment for Squamos Cell Carcinoma.
His cancer journey has taught him many things, but none more valuable than the importance of having his wife by his side every step of the way.
“You need that rational person who reminds you there’s people out there that are going through a hell a lot worse than you are. Some of them haven’t survived. That’s the reminder you need to hear sometimes, in order to make it through your own journey,” Trevor explains while tearing up.
Trevor’s own journey began in mid 2018. It was believed he had a blocked tear duct. However, while in surgery to repair it, the doctor found a tumour had formed behind the duct.
“I was stunned, like just numb,” Trevor explains.
Being just before Christmas, Trevor and his wife decided to tell only a small group of select family members. They didn’t want his diagnosis to be the focus of family gatherings over the break.
Trevor says having to wait till the New Year to meet with his Oncologist caused a lot of stress and worry. He had so many questions trying to process what his diagnosis meant for the future. A phone call to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency’s (Agency) Allan Blair Cancer Centre would ease a lot of that concern.
“Right away, the person told me ‘don’t think for a second that we stand still just because it’s the holiday season. We assemble a team. We go over all the scans that have already been done and we develop a plan,’ she said exactly what I needed to hear at that time,” says Trevor.
From his first meeting with Agency staff, he knew he was in good hands.
“So there’s seven specialists in a room with me and my wife, ready to answer any questions we might have and discuss the plan,” Trevor says, still stunned by this.
At every turn of his treatment, which included chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, Trevor says he was blown away by the care and attention he received.
“They all have a sense of humanity. These highly trained professional people also are highly sensitive to their patient care. It’s above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen before in my life in a healthcare setting,” he says.
His radiation was particularly difficult. Because it was being administered to the head and neck area, side effects included difficulty swallowing and took away his taste buds. This was complicated by the fact he was fitted with a custom mask to ensure his treatment was delivered precisely. Any wiggle room in the mask and the radiation may not hit the mark. All of this meant he had to work very hard to keep weight on by taking in foods based on texture and temperature.
Cancer has also left its mark on Trevor.
He has some residual nerve damage that was unavoidable, chronic dry throat and his skin is now permanently sensitive so he needs to be hyper-vigilant with sun safety. Through all of it, Trevor keeps things in perspective.
“These are minor things in life.”
Trevor is now several weeks past treatment and back into the swing of things with work and life. Having gone through cancer, he wants everyone to step up and support the CT Simulator Fundraising Campaign.
“We’ve got great people here. We’re so fortunate. People don’t understand and I didn’t understand before going through this that we’ve got to put the right tools and technology in the hands of these professionals. We’re not just investing in our own healthcare, but the healthcare of future generations.”