Richard Bone from Ponoka, Alberta, had his first run-in with cancer in December 2012.
Little did he know, this would be the beginning of a 10+ year-long cancer journey. Throughout his journey, Richard found peace through the support of his dedicated healthcare team, the unwavering love of his family, and his tenacious spirit that refused to let cancer get the best of him. This is Richard’s story, in his own words…
My journey began on December 18, 2012. I felt a mild pain under my right rib at the start of my shift that progressed through the night. My supervisor had never seen me so pale. I went for a walk across the lease but collapsed, and I was taken straight to Rocky Mountain House Hospital.
The next morning I was allowed to go home as long as I went to my local ER in Ponoka with the Rocky Mountain House Doctor’s notes in hand. From there, they sent me for an ultrasound in Sylvan Lake. From Sylvan Lake, I was sent to Wetaskiwin for an emergency CT. That’s a lot of urgency and gas…
The next morning, I woke up to a call from the on-call Doctor. She asked how far I lived from the hospital. I said a couple of blocks away. She said “Good, I’ll be expecting you in 5 minutes then…” We anxiously got dressed and headed in for the news we now feared we were about to receive.
“You have cancer.”
The hardest part in that moment was seeing my wife visibly deflate and instantly start to cry. I just went numb and thought, “Maybe I won’t outlive my Dad.” He died from cancer at 45. I was 42.
Over the next ten years, Richard would face the following diagnoses and treatments…
- 2012 Stage IV Colon cancer metastasized to my liver and lymph nodes.
- In 2013, surgery at the University of Alberta removed 2/3 large intestine, two large chunks from my liver, appendix and gall bladder. Followed by almost three years of chemotherapy at the Central Alberta Cancer Centre in Red Deer.
- 2013 June Terminal with a 5% chance of making it past one year. Four lymph node tumours clustered around my aorta in the peritoneum. Inoperable.
- 2015 Bladder cancer diagnosis
- 2016 Bladder cancer diagnosis
- 2017 Squamous Cell carcinoma found in my throat, mouth, and tongue
- 19.5-hour surgery to remove Left and Right tonsils, part of my tongue, the left side of my throat, my soft pallet, and 348 lymph nodes from neck. Followed by six weeks of daily radiation
- 2018 bladder cancer
- 2.5 years Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Immunotherapy Therapy
- 2022 May, bladder cancer, kidney tumour
- 2022 August 16, my kidney was removed, along with my ureter, and a small piece of my bladder
From the surgeons, to the Healthcare Aides, these people are ABSOLUTE HEROS.
The Nurses involved in calming my panic when waking up with a tracheostomy, aspirating violently and scared out of my mind…. I vividly remember the nurse propping me up from behind and whispering in my ear that everything was going to be just fine. I still have nightmares of all the gurgling and fear, and I still hear that soft, reassuring voice. My tears are as real now, as they were that day.
Every single D.I. Tech. All the Radiology techs. The scary notion of radiation treatments every day for 6 weeks was abated by the wonderful, and compassionate staff operating that machine at Cross Cancer Institute. That was a difficult time with more tears than I could explain. I kept hearing that Bell ringing down the hall and desperately looked forward to the day I rang My Bell.
On September 10, 2016 my “Lady Bug” was born just 5 days after my birthday. I called her that because she was in a ladybug sleeper when we went to meet her.
Each “Next” milestone in her life is my “NEXT” milestone to witness.
My Granddaughter even came with us that final day of one of my sets of treatment and helped Grandpa ring that bell. That was Nov. 2017, she was 15 months old, and I was now 3 years past my terminal prognosis. It was an AMAZING day!
I’m still here to tell my own story!
“I MAY HAVE CANCER, BUT CANCER DOESN’T HAVE ME!”
This summer, Richard will be riding in the Great Cycle Challenge Canada, in support of children facing cancer. You can check out his page here!