Real People, Real Stories

Kidney cancer survivor

Cory Hawryluk

I was diagnosed in July of 2005. It was a Saturday. My wife, Barbara, and I were preparing to leave town to celebrate her mother’s birthday. I was watching the Tour de France when the phone rang. The doctor told us that my test results were back and that I had renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer. We absorbed the news for a few moments and then my wife suggested that we cancel our trip. I appreciated her offer, but told her that I still wanted us to go to her mom’s party. However, I did have one request: before leaving, I wanted to watch Lance Armstrong complete that day’s race. At the risk of missing our flight, we watched, and Lance won. Only then did we leave. Watching him win that day set my mind right for the challenges ahead.

Through the course of my treatment and recovery, I was contacted by several kidney cancer survivors who had learned of my cancer. They did not otherwise know me, but they nevertheless reached out to me. Their selfless support and words of encouragement meant everything to me. They had walked in my shoes, and they understood me. They really listened. After my recovery, I wanted to provide that same support to others. Because I had received my treatment at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, I contacted the hospital’s volunteer services. They were excited about my interest and referred me to CanCare for training. After speaking with CanCare’s Pat Hogan and Nancy Tucker, I knew that I had found the right people. My wife and I went through training and we never looked back. We remain active volunteers, and we think about our CanCare friends every day.

It’s difficult to put into words how much being a CanCare volunteer means to me. If my listening and support can help somebody else have hope, then I am honored and humbled. There is nothing more rewarding that I do each day. Through my CanCare friendships, I have learned that I am the one who is blessed.

CanCare has been serving people with cancer since 1990.  All services are confidential and free of charge.  To talk to someone surviving your diagnosis, click here.