The signs were all there. But Garry Pendygrasse wasn't paying attention to them and now he's using his experience to let the world know that detecting cancer early is important.
The 45-year-old cinematographer, who currently lives in Squamish but has called Pemberton and Whistler home in the past, was diagnosed with colon cancer last year. He said he chose not to get checked over by a doctor when he noticed blood in his stool and his energy level was dropping.
"Other people were noticing too," Pendygrasse said of his energy loss. "I was just attributing it to getting older."
When he did eventually see a doctor the doctor found he was anemic and his red blood cell count was low.
"They sent me down to Lions Gate (Hospital) for a transfusion that night," said Pendygrasse. "I did an ultrasound while I was down there and they found a mass in my colon. I was in surgery the next week."
Chemotherapy followed in December and continues now for Pendygrasse. The cancer had spread into Pennygrasse's liver so he noted that if he had acted on the signs earlier he might have avoided chemotherapy.
"Things are shrinking and things are progressing the way they (his doctors) want them to," said Pendygrasse.
His friend Leah Gillies has decided to throw a party to raise money and awareness of the importance of watching out for signs of illness and seeing a doctor for an annual physical examination.
The party, called Survive N Thrive, is set for Friday, Aug. 16 at Merlins. Marble Canyon and Bel Riose will play live music and Foxy Moron will be there with Vinyl Ritchie. The tickets are $20 at the door and the party tickets include a beer and a raffle ticket. Pendygrasse said there would be live and silent auctions at the party as well.
Gillies has set it up as a fundraiser to help cover medical expenses faced by Pendygrasse, who added that part of the proceeds from the event will go to Survive and Thrive Expeditions, an organization that takes cancer victims and survivors on adventure tours.