One week after his mother’s funeral, Mark Simmons had the scare of his life. He was in the shower when he felt the lump. He knew immediately there was something wrong. Mark’s worst fears were realized. He too had cancer.
SUMMERSIDE - One week after his mother’s funeral, Mark Simmons had the scare of his life. He was in the shower when he felt the lump. He knew immediately there was something wrong. Mark’s worst fears were realized. He too had cancer.
Mark watched his mother, Pam Simmons, battle cancer for more than a decade.
She had endured numerous surgeries and repeated rounds of chemotherapy. Despite her determination, Pam lost her life to breast cancer in November 2011.
Now the 30-year-old businessman was facing his own battle.
“It was pure fear,” said Simmons. “I made the same mistake many people make - I thought all cancers were the same and, having seen what my mother went though, I was terrified.”
Fortunately, Simmons’ testicular cancer was detected at an early stage. He underwent surgery to remove the affected testicle. His blood is monitored regularly but no further treatment has been necessary.
“I got off easy,” said Simmons. “A lot of people with cancer go through much more than I did.”
In many ways, Simmons just wants to put his cancer experience behind him and never think about it again. But he knows how important it is for people to know about diseases like testicular cancer so they can recognize possible symptoms and get treatment at an early stage.
Shortly after Mark’s diagnosis, the Simmons family was hit with cancer again.
His aunt, Lillian Simmons, developed a form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.
“That was really hard on my dad, Billy. His wife had just died, his son was about to undergo surgery and he finds out his sister had cancer too,” said Simmons.
Now that Mark and Lillian Simmons are both healthy, the family is fighting back against cancer.
They are part of the ‘Dream Team,’ a group of Islanders committed to raising $5,000 each in support of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
Simmons is organizing a fundraiser involving 14 Island restaurants. The one-day event, called “Feast for Hope,” takes place Wednesday. Participating restaurants are donating between 10 – 15 per cent of the total they make from food sales during lunch and dinner that day to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“It is a great opportunity to enjoy a meal with your friends, family or co-workers and support the work of the society at the same time,” said Lori Barker, executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division.
Simmons said he is overwhelmed by the co-operation and generosity of the restaurants that have signed on for this first time event.
“We hope it will become an annual event,” said Simmons. “It’s a great way for people to go out and enjoy lunch or dinner and a portion of what they pay goes to the Society to support the work it does.”
The Canadian Cancer Society currently has a nationwide campaign called “Nutiquette” to teach young men how to spot testicular cancer early.
Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males aged 15 to 29. If it’s caught early, the chances of successful treatment are much better.
Simmons understands the importance of accurate information and support programs available through the Society.
“It’s been almost two years since my diagnosis and I am still getting over it. I still get stressed out and have a lot of anxiety when I go for tests every thress months,” said Simmons. “Our family wants to do what we can to help others facing a cancer journey. If eating out at a nice restaurant can help the cause, what a great way to show your support.”
Reservations at participating restaurants are recommended for the October 9th Feast For Hope event.
Five Eleven West Restaurant & Wine Bar
Samuel’s Coffee House
The Pilot House
Claddagh Oyster House
Olde Dublin Pub
Daniel Brenan Brickhouse
Beanz Expresso Bar & Café
Water’s Edge Resto Bar & Grill
Hunter’s Ale House
The Globe World Flavours
The Big Orange Lunchbox
Red Shores Racetrack and Casino