In­quiry needed into can­cer ‘plague’


Dear editor,

On Aug. 22, Canada lost one of its out­stand­ing cit­i­zens to a plague that is sweep­ing this coun­try. Jack Lay­ton died of can­cer at a young age and to the fam­ily I of­fer my be­lated con­do­lences. Jack was a per­son who tried to make this coun­try a bet­ter place to live in and will be greatly missed by all who knew or heard of him.

The me­dia broke the news with the state­ment “sad­dened and shocked.” Was I sad­dened? Yes. Shocked? No.

My only sis­ter Gwen passed away with can­cer 15 years ago and since that time I have had many friends who have suc­cumbed to this dreaded dis­ease. This past year I got treated for prostate can­cer. Although I have been home less than a month, I have at­tended the fu­ner­als of three close friends who died of can­cer.

When Jack Lay­ton was di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer in Fe­bru­ary 2010, it made national news.

In July of this year, when Mr. Lay­ton stepped away from his job for a while to fight can­cer that had re­turned, it made national news. When he died on Aug. 22, it cer­tainly made national news. And so it should. But on Aug. 22, there were ap­prox­i­mately an­other 200 peo­ple who died of can­cer in Canada, and not one men­tion of these peo­ple.

Although I have never met Mr. Lay­ton, we did have two things in com­mon: he was di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer in Fe­bru­ary of 2010, and one year later I was di­ag­nosed with the same can­cer. The other is that we both have strived to make this coun­try a bet­ter place for our chil­dren, but Mr. Lay­ton cer­tainly did much bet­ter than I did and for that I will al­ways have re­spect for him and be thank­ful.

While he will be re­mem­bered for a lot of things by many types of peo­ple, the thing that I and I be­lieve the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple will al­ways re­mem­ber, that he was a young man who was struck down in the high­light of his life by the dreaded plague called can­cer.

I am mak­ing a plea to all Cana­di­ans: let’s not for­get how Mr. Lay­ton died and in his own let­ter just be­fore his death, he urged oth­ers af­fected with the dis­ease not to give up hope. It’s hard for peo­ple like me to have hope when I have lost a lot of fam­ily and friends to can­cer, go­ing through it my­self and have a lot of friends still fight­ing for their life.

Sta­tis­tics re­leased this sum­mer say 500 peo­ple a day are be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer in Canada and that 200 a day will die. That’s 73,000 a year. In other words, if you get can­cer you have ap­prox­i­mately a 62 per cent chance of sur­vival; not a good av­er­age, hence the rea­son I was not shocked when Mr. Lay­ton died.

Now is a good time to make sure that Jack Lay­ton did not die in vain and that his name will be used in a much-needed in­quiry or a Royal com­mis­sion into what is caus­ing all this can­cer. I truly be­lieve that a lot of these can­cers are caused by can­cer caus­ing chem­i­cals that we are putting in to our foods, our water and our environment and a lot of peo­ple are get­ting rich while a lot of us are dy­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily.

As they say: an ounce of pre­ven­tion is worth a pound of cure.

To all the New Demo­cratic MPs, this is your chance to make sure you do Mr. Lay­ton proud by mak­ing sure all MPs in Canada are on side with this in­quiry into the cause of can­cer and more ef­fort is put into find­ing cures, so that some day we will be able to con­trol this ter­ri­ble plague like we have done with a lot of oth­ers in the past.

My dad died at age 40 of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in 1940. My step-dad of one year died of can­cer in 1946. While we did wipe out the dread­ful tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and other dis­eases, we have not done very well with the dread­ful plague called can­cer. In fact, I would wa­ger it has in­creased ten­fold.

It will be too late for a lot of us, but maybe Jack Lay­ton’s chil­dren and grand­chil­dren and my chil­dren and grand­chil­dren can have some hope of a bet­ter life in the fu­ture.

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