Grow On Windsor Ambassador
I am a 2022 Grow On Windsor Ambassador because I want to help our cancer community in any way I can. I am waiting for the next breakthrough to extend my life expectancy, and we can’t get that breakthrough without funding, research, and support, which is what this campaign is all about. – Brandon Smith
Brandon’s cancer story begins back in 2010, before he became a dad to twins Annabelle and Abbygail, and long before he met his incredible wife Sarah. Brandon shares his diagnosis and treatment fighting cancer not once, but twice. He also opens up about how he’s determined to be around for his daughters, and how that shift in focus gives him the strength to keep fighting. For Brandon, it wasn’t about the support he received from Annabelle and Abbygail, rather, the support he wanted to give them as their father. And of his wife, Brandon says she’s the one that’s gotten him through the toughest times these last four years.
Brandon wants to be an advocate for men facing a cancer diagnosis, and hopes his story will help bring our community together. By supporting Grow On Windsor, you’re showing Brandon and all patients living with cancer in our community that they are not alone. We Grow On Together.
BRANDON’S DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
In 2010, Brandon was wearing a lanyard that rubbed against a mole on his neck and broke the skin. The mole became a nuisance, and Brandon scheduled to have it removed. He thought nothing of it at the time, and cancer never crossed his mind until the doctor’s office called and asked to see him in person, immediately. The diagnosis: Stage IV Melanoma.
Brandon’s initial visit to the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre was overwhelming. He went all alone. He was surprised by the wide range in age and the varying degrees of ‘healthiness’ he saw in patients throughout the building. He continued visits at the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, and a lump appeared on the back of his skull in 2017. When the lump was removed, the results revealed that Brandon’s cancer had metastasized and had spread throughout his body. A new fight had begun.
When Brandon received the diagnosis that his cancer had spread, his twin daughters were just five years old. After rounds of radiation, Brandon and his doctor began looking for available clinical trials. During the search, they found a new treatment that was being offered right here in Windsor. This new treatment was promising but aggressive, and side effects took its toll on him.
Today, Brandon is in immunotherapy and visits the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre every two weeks. He will continue immunotherapy for the rest of his life. He’s so used to the process that, aside from day-of-treatment fatigue, Brandon won’t let cancer slow him down.
AS THE SAYING GOES, SOMETIMES IT’S BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE
When Brandon was told the cancer had spread, the first thing he thought of were his daughters. He knew he had to do whatever he could to stay around for them. Brandon took a hard look at his priorities, and instead of looking for support from them, shifted his focus so he could be around to support his daughters and his wife Sarah.
Brandon used to prioritize work and other commitments. Today, Brandon says cancer made him a better father. He is ever present for schoolwork and activities for both Annabelle and Abbygail, now ten years old.
Brandon recognizes he may have limited time left, so no matter how yucky he’s feeling, the girls remain his top priority. He gets his treatment during his off-weeks so the weeks he has his daughters he’s at full energy.
He wants to continue to build a loving family that he can be around for, for a long time.
You can support Brandon by donating in honour of him. We Grow On Together.
BRANDON’S DRIVE TO BE A GROW ON WINDSOR AMBASSADOR
I know there’s probably a lot of guys that don’t necessarily go to the doctor. I went to get a mole removed and my whole life changed. Stage Four. But I think to myself, what would have happened if I didn’t get that mole taken off? Get yourself checked. It could be nothing, but it could change everything. Advancements in immunotherapy, as a result of clinical trials and research, are critical for me to continue to live my life. We need our community’s support. Everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another. – Brandon Smith