In late August I shot an interview with Global National. It was a fun experience. The producer who set up the shoot actually arranged to have it done on location near the Park, which was really cool. My canoe had three different GoPros attached to it and I got to spend an afternoon desperately hoping I didn’t dump on camera. Here’s a link to the interview. If you haven’t already watched it, click the link, I’ll wait.
Done? Great. So why did you just watch a four month old news clip? Good question.
When I set the goal to paddle 100 lakes in Algonquin last summer I had no expectations that it would lead to any sort of public attention. I set up the Instagram account and started this blog more to keep myself honest than anything else. I still can’t believe the interest I received and I am very appreciative of everyone who supported me along the way.
The media attention to what I was doing was, and still is, mind blowing. I was on TV last summer. Twice. For paddling. That’s … not something I would have put on my “Things that are definitely going to happen in 2016” list at the start of year. If you had told me back then that I was going to be on TV I would have assumed it was in a background shot of people lining up to see the new Star Wars movie. If you had told me I was going to be on TV twice I would have wondered why they were reusing footage of people lining up for the new Star Wars movie. But I was on TV, and because of that my life has changed pretty significantly.
Remember that Global interview you watched three minutes ago? After the interview aired I received a few emails from viewers across the country with words of encouragement that were very nice to read. I also received an email from a viewer who told me that she had noticed a lump at the base of my throat and that maybe I should get it checked out. That wasn’t as nice to read.
When I first read the email I figured the person was crazy. I’d never noticed a lump. Neither had my wife or anyone close to me. Besides, lumps don’t happen to young, fit people who go to the gym six days a week, eat healthy, don’t drink or smoke and generally try to do everything they can to avoid this kind of crap. Except they do, and this one did. I got it checked out and, long story short, had my thyroid removed over New Years. In early January I received confirmation that there was indeed some cancer in there. I don’t mind telling you that that was pretty damn scary. Today, however, I got the good news that I won’t be needing further treatments and that things look pretty good going forward. I’m fortunate in that the cancer was caught early and small, and I owe that to the person who sent me that email.
So why am I writing about it here? A couple of reasons I guess. It’s not a canoe trip, but this is very much related to my 100 lakes goal. Back in May, when I decided I wanted to see more of Algonquin Park, I had no idea where it would lead. But I can guarantee that if I hadn’t decided to do something new and try something different, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without the decision to paddle the park this summer, I’m not on TV. And if I’m not on TV then there’s no email from my personal guardian angel. The number of “ifs” that had to pile up to lead to my diagnosis is kind of staggering. If I hadn’t decided to paddle all those lakes this summer, if I hadn’t put it on social media, if people hadn’t been interested, if it hadn’t gotten picked up by the media, if that particular viewer hadn’t been watching … it goes on. But none of those ifs would have happened without that first step. This is part of my 100 lakes story. Not a part I ever would have wanted or predicted, but a part nonetheless.
I also want to highlight how much one complete stranger has impacted my life. Just by taking the time to write a four sentence email, she alerted me to something very important that I had completely missed. I will be forever grateful that she took an interest and felt compelled to speak up, especially when it would have been just as easy to ignore it and move on. This has driven home to me the importance of paying attention to and caring about the world around me; friends, family and strangers alike. There’s no telling what you might see that everyone else has missed, and no knowing whose life you might change just by speaking up.
Anyways, that’s it for now. I’m doing well and looking forward to getting back out there this spring.
Thanks for reading, see you on the water (or knee deep in mud on the Tonakela/Thunder portage, whichever).