Cancer has affected Regina’s Troy Kocur in many ways. If there is one positive, it’s that his diagnosis has given him a new perspective on life.
“There is always someone worse off than you, right? I could be dead. I woke up this morning, let’s have a great day. Don’t worry about the small stuff, life is too short,” Troy says.
His own journey began before New Year’s in 2019. Troy and his wife Jill had come back from a trip to Mexico. He wasn’t feeling well and wondered if he’d brought back a bug.
Troy returned to his job as a steelworker at Evraz North America. Still not feeling 100 percent, it was a co-worker who noticed something unusual.
“He pointed at the left side of my neck and said ‘you’ve got a lump there’ and I was like ‘you’re right,” Troy says.
His doctor ordered an ultrasound which showed a mass. A biopsy was also ordered.
“I got a phone call 11 hours later (after the biopsy), which is generally not a good thing. He (his doctor) needed to see me the next day.”
Their worst fears were realized. Troy had Stage 3C Metastatic Melanoma.
“I heard those words, and I had blinders on. My ears shut off, complete white noise until, like 11 p.m. that night,” Troy explains.
His treatment plan included surgery to remove the cancer, which wasn’t easy. The doctors figured it started above his left eye and spread to his lymph nodes and parotid gland. It then wrapped around a facial nerve. As a result, he needed to have part of his forehead rebuilt and his left eyelid.
Troy also underwent 30 days of radiation therapy. After that, he started an immunotherapy drug trial.
The Regina resident is incredibly thankful for the care he’s received from the staff at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency’s (Agency) Allan Blair Cancer Centre (ABCC). His care team and everyone at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are very special people.
“These people are my hero’s. They are there five days a week dealing with a lot of people that, unfortunately, probably do not have a great outcome. The care you receive there, they are just so compassionate.”
As Troy prepares for a return to work, he’s keeping busy. He’s spending as much time as he can with his wife, Jill, and his step-daughter that just graduated high school. He’s also helping out his younger brother Drew who has a podcast dedicated to promoting Saskatchewan and Canadian golf.
At the time of writing this, Troy had one dose left on his drug trial. He’s focused on the future and a return to some sense of normal. However, getting to the end of his treatment is foremost on his mind.
“I’m really looking forward to ringing the s!#t out of that bell!”
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Thom Carnahan considers the Regina Cancer Patient Lodge (Lodge) an essential service. He's used the Lodge almost every time he's needed to come to Regina for appointments and treatment at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre (ABCC). The resident of Canora, north of Yorkton, is battling prostate cancer.