Alberta Cancer Foundation

Meet Bradley Drader

In this Living with Cancer series, we capture the bravery, strength, honesty, hope and resilience of Albertans living with cancer

As told to Fabian Mayer

Photograph by Carmen Rae Photography.

Bradley Drader, a retired secondary school teacher living just outside Drayton Valley, was first diagnosed with a rare form of adrenal cancer as an 18-month-old toddler in 1969. But, even after the tumour was removed, damage from the cancer to his adrenal and glandular systems meant Drader spent much of his childhood in and out of Edmonton hospitals to treat hormonal imbalances.

Then, in 2008, as a married man with two young children, Drader was diagnosed with melanoma; he still has regular checks and mole removals. And, in 2022, Drader was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which required radiation and hormone therapy. He continues to be monitored today. 

Having gone through several cancer journeys, the 57-year-old can confidently say he has more personal experience dealing with the disease than most. Despite the many difficult moments, Drader has always focused on the positives and found things to keep him going through it all.

“When I first started my cancer journey, all they could do diagnostically was blood tests, X-rays and physical monitoring. Now, when you look at the advancements in technology and the ability to diagnose and treat cancer, it’s remarkable how much has changed. But what’s held the same all these years, within the hospitals themselves, is the support that’s there. That’s what was just so overwhelmingly positive for me.

“I find it remarkable just how supportive the staff has been throughout my entire life. Growing up and having to spend time in a hospital without my parents being there, it was a very lonely time. But the staff was always there to help me out and get me through — to make me feel better about myself, and provide hope and positive reinforcement.

“I always found things that made me want to get up and tackle whatever challenge it was that came at me. When I had melanoma, I had two small kids and I said to myself, I have to fight for them. And my wife was always incredibly supportive — she’s been my rock.

“Now that I’m going through prostate cancer, I find you just have to take the day as it comes and find the things that make you feel better. I love nature, so I go for walks. I talk to my children and I spend as much time with my wife as I can. My advice to others on a cancer journey is to spend a part of each day doing something that gives you joy or fulfilment, and to find purpose in your day-to-day life.”

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