After the Langley City Terry Fox Run got underway, Fred Haywood sat down at Douglas Park, basking in the mid-morning sunshine.
Haywood, 61, who recently had a brain tumour removed, was at the fundraiser with a message: don’t ignore the warning signs.
In August he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an incurable form of brain cancer.
“When they realized what it was, I was into the hospital right away,” Haywood shared. “They did surgery, and they removed the tumour, but it’s one of those tumours that’s really hard to cure.”
He said the diagnosis was “a bit of a shock.”
“You are always the last to think that you are going to get this disease,” Haywood said.
But his family has a history with cancer.
Haywood’s sister had a brain tumour 20 years ago, and also had surgery to remove it.
“In the process, they gave her radiation as they want to do, and it [radiation therapy] was in the early stages; they are a lot better at it now than they were then, and they blasted her too many times at too high a rate… but she’s still alive and that’s the main thing,” Haywood said.
“I take solace from her that, ‘Hey, it [survival] can happen.’”
Haywood’s wife Lynn saw some warning signs before her husband’s diagnosis.
Haywood was getting forgetful and fell asleep easily.
It was also difficult to wake him up.
Early one morning, Lynn called an ambulance.
Once Haywood was in the hospital, he underwent a CT scan. That’s when the tumour was discovered.
The news devastated Lynn because her niece had battled cancer.
She knew that glioblastoma was difficult to cure.
“It hit her like a ton of bricks,” Haywood said.
It didn’t take long for surgery to happen. “So next thing I know, they were drilling into my head and removing this tumour,” Haywood said.
Haywood hopes others will learn from what he has gone through.
“Don’t ignore signs that are different,” Haywood said.
“Don’t just say, ‘Oh, I’m tired all the time, so what?’ That may be a sign of something. And don’t ignore signs of other people. It may be the one thing that gets you the diagnosis you need.”
Another reason why he was at the run was to “make up for past sins.”
Haywood explained: “When her [Lynn’s] niece passed away, afterwards we felt we didn’t do enough for her support during the time she was ill. This is the payback to her.”