Sunday, 2 December 2012

My First "Cancer" Speech

This previous week, while I am still waiting for test results, I was asked to give a speech by Dr. Dave Perrin (UBC Chemistry, Cancer imaging agents) to the department at the holiday party to raise awareness for the "Ride to Conquer Cancer" that I (along with many others do). So I decided this blog post would be that speech. I can't believe how hard it was to give while I am still waiting for test results.

It was received very well, except one person that told me I shouldn't talk about cancer at a holiday party because "It is too depressing to think about sick people at Christmas". To which I responded, some people don't have the choice. Anyways, here it is, I think it went well.

Hello and Good evening,

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Eamonn Conrad and I am a post-Doctoral fellow in Derek Gates lab here at UBC. I like to start by thanking Dr. Perrin for giving me the opportunity to speak at this great event tonight. I thought a lot about what I was going to say tonight, but realized that I mainly would like to thank the department for its support. 

As many of you know, in January 2011 I was diagnosed with cancer (Ewings Sarcoma) and took a one year leave of absence to get treatment at the BC Cancer Agency. This holiday party marks my one year anniversary of returning to work. The support I received while on leave from the department, were second to none. To me, it is moments of support like this that define people and the places they work in, more so than any course offered, degree granted or publication ever could. I am proud to work in a department where support is always there for its students and colleagues in their time of need.

While in treatment I made it a personal goal to give back to the research that saved my life, as well as many others, and found a way to do this through The Ride to Conquer Cancer.  This past June I rode my bike from Vancouver to Seattle fundraising for the BC Cancer Foundation. I raised almost $5000 personally, and the event raised $11.2 million for cancer research, making it the biggest and most successful fundraiser of its type in Canada. I would like to thank everyone in the department who donated last year. I am happy to report that your dollars helped with some of the most recent breakthroughs in breast cancer. Oncologists at the BCCA have discovered that breast cancer is not four types of cancer as previously thought, but at least 10. Though at the surface this may seem troubling, this is allowing for more specific treatment to many people and most importantly, saving people’s lives.  

The Ride to Conquer Cancer not only changed my life but no doubt saved it. Last Year, I rode for myself to thank those who helped me. This year I have started my own team getting more people involved and we are riding for everyone who cannot, so people will not lose friends and family to this disease. I am riding because it makes a difference. Many of you have already joined me in this fight – professors, students, and even the CGSS with your donations and I am asking for others to join as well because together we truly can make a difference in the lives of so many people.  Most importantly, this ride gives people hope, which is really what the holidays are all about. 

If you’re interested, please come talk to me about it and join the fight - I would be happy to get anyone involved, and don’t worry about contact info for it, I will be sending out emails throughout the year! I hope tonight that I have convinced more of you to take up this fight with me. Thank you again for those who already have committed to this year, it is greatly appreciated, and to all the previous donors who help make this event a success. My last request of tonight is that over this holiday season reflect on what is important to you. If you feel this isn’t the cause for you, I encourage you to find a cause this year that you are passionate about and will make a difference in people’s lives. I guarantee you will find it rewarding, and it will make a positive impact in peoples lives. I will end with this, advice from one of Canadas and the CBCs comedian “Red Green”, “keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together”.

Thank you.

Eamonn Conrad (

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