Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The tumor looked like an extension of his cellphone / Letter to the Editor / Will this be the next home cancer generator? / Letter to the Minister

Cancer scare punctuates man's life

By Dave Brown, The Ottawa CitizenFebruary 2, 2009

Doctors gave Kevin Bloodworth a period; he's making it an exclamation mark

In July, medics showed Kevin Bloodworth, then 37, a picture of the tumour inside his skull and told him to tidy up his affairs. They could try surgery, but there was little hope. His life was almost over -- period.

"It looked like a jellyfish," he says.

"The main body was about the size of a baseball, but its tentacles ran all through the brain and there was no way they could get at them."

A month ago, the Orléans father of two was declared cancer free, and says: "Don't put a period where God intended only a comma."

He had no idea he was in trouble until he collapsed in July. Things happened fast once doctors found the reason a fit man suddenly had his lights switched off. Surgery was performed within days, and the body of the tumor was excised. It weighed in at seven ounces.

The tentacles were tackled with a bombardment of chemicals and radiation. Despite all the trauma the inside of his head was subjected to, he came through undamaged. He says he's unaware of any loss. Then he hesitates and says his ability as a soccer player may have declined a bit. He will never again head a soccer ball.

Come to think of it, it will lessen his communications speed. He will never again use a cellphone. A self-employed idea man and Christian activist, he used to travel to at least 15 countries a year, and his hand-held communications devices were seldom far from his ear.

Manufacturers and government tests say there's nothing to worry about, but Mr. Bloodworth has become a doubter. To his way of thinking, the tumor looked like an extension of his cellphone.

An American, Mr. Bloodworth was attending a teachers' conference in Atlanta a few years ago, and spotted among the attendees a teacher from the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Her name: Nancy-Chantel Souliere. "We were sitting in the same section, and pretty soon I was sitting right beside her."

They were married and had daughter Reece, now three, and son Maddox, now two. She teaches at St. Peter's in Orléans, and he is active in his church, The Life Centre, also in Orléans.

His reminder of mortality changed his thinking and his approach to life. He no longer focuses his attention on the world, but is zeroed in on his community. He has become a cancer warrior.

"While we went through this, we never once in six months had to prepare a dinner. Every day a wonderful meal, prepared by people at Nancy-Chantel's school or my church, appeared on our table. There was always a babysitter or a ride on request. We didn't get through this without help."

Kevin's first career was in radio, and the 15-year veteran broadcaster enjoys doing a regular Saturday morning children's show on Radio CHRI-99.1 FM, a Christian station.

"The whole situation really heightened my awareness of Orléans," he said in a story carried by the weekly Orléans Star in August. "I really want to help this community. I really want to see this community flourish."

That was in the doubtful days when he was still working on the punctuation issue. He doesn't talk about having a lot of time, but more time. "Nobody knows. Look at any grave marker and you'll see the years of birth and death. There's a dash between them. We have no control over the dates, only the dash. That's where we live our lives. That's what counts."

Currently he's making it count by working on the details of a couple of cancer causes his marketing skills came up with. He is Upward Communications, and as a skilled organizer he has most of the legwork done for a softball challenge in the spring. It will feature players from the Ottawa Senators, as well as promises of bodies from the Canadian Football League and MuchMusic.

He's working with Koyman Galleries to launch a formal evening featuring high-profile artists, as well as artists who happen to be cancer patients. Both events still require fine tuning, so he doesn't give dates.

He says he talked his way to survival. "If you believe you can't, then you'll be right. If you believe you can, you will." He focuses on that dash, and accepts that his life will end, but not before he achieves some things. And it will end not with a comma or a period, but with an exclamation mark.

That shows in the way he signs off on his notes and letters. "Here with a purpose! Kevin Bloodworth."