Fighting the Good Fight

Gary Fitzpatrick

Gary Fitzpatrick

Upcoming dinner-dance at St. Patrick’s School hall will raise funds for ongoing cancer battle

Although he’s been through five cancer surgeries in three years, Gary Fitzpatrick refuses to feel sorry for himself.

“I want my story to be inspirational,” the Saanich resident says. “I want other people to see it is possible to make it through cancer.”

In addition to the surgeries and accompanying chemo and radiation therapies, he’s been adhering to an expensive naturopathic regime to deal with esophagal, lung and brain cancer. But that regime, which includes oxygenated blood transfusions, natural medications and even shark cartilage, has drained his own and his parents’ finances.

To help with that, family friends John O’Neill and Jim Connacher of Saanich are organizing a Feb. 26 dinner and dance fundraiser for Fitzpatrick. The event will be held at the school he attended as a youngster, St. Patrick’s on Trent Street in Victoria.

The fundraiser will include a silent auction on more than 30 items donated to help raise funds for Fitzpatrick’s $1,500 a month cancer-fighting costs.

Half of the proceeds from the auction of a Vancouver Canucks ticket/hotel/ferry package will be donated toward helping Saanich baby Molly Campbell and her family. Just two months old, Molly has a rare form of leukemia.

Fitzpatrick, now 33, found out three years ago he had cancer of the esophagus. Previously healthy and a regular gym goer, he’d gone to the Royal Jubilee hospital emergency department after days of vomiting. Two weeks later a fist-sized tumour was removed in a six-hour surgery. Although chemo and radiation therapy helped beat back that tumour, four more appeared in his brain and lungs and resulted in four more surgeries and treatment rounds.

Additional tumours have appeared on his lungs since then, but Fitzpatrick’s last CAT scan showed they weren’t growing. Fitzpatrick attributes that lack of growth to a radical change in diet.

“Basically I’m on the no-white diet,” he said in his parents’ living room. His daily menu consists of no white flours or sugars and lots of kale, apples, and carrots.

He had to quit Camosun College where he was studying to be an electrician, but Fitzpatrick can still dance, something he intends to do plenty of with fiancée Jo-Anne Schrader on Saturday, Feb. 26.

“I want to live,” he says. “I still have too many promises as a man to keep: to my family to live, and to Jo-Anne.”

Tickets for the dinner and dance are $65. To purchase them, call 250-592-7176. Donations in Fitzpatrick’s name can also be made at CIBC in Hillside Centre.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com