When Cancer Becomes Part of Life’s Adventure

Barry Brown
Barry Brown, an avid outdoors man and ‘pioneer’ boy shares his cancer story.

A stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosis was not on Barry Brown’s life map or GPS, but this is where he found himself in October of 2016.

A lifelong outdoorsman, who loved his first career as a conservation officer and who now co-owns fishing and hunting lodges with his wife, Carolle, located northwest of Atikokan, they are no strangers to the aches and pains of 18-20 hour work days. But, over time Barry’s back became so sore, even while sleeping or sitting, that he had to have it checked.

“I’ve spent long days on snow mobiles, in undersized tin boats, and in my truck that cause aches and pains. I thought that’s what the pain was related to, but it wasn’t. I found it was actually cancer, and at my first appointment with my oncologists, they couldn’t believe that I had actually walked into my appointment. They said I should be in a wheelchair,” said Barry. “It turns out the cancer had spread all of the way up my spine, including my ribs, and into the base of my skull, but it had not made it to my spinal cord yet. I was lucky and blessed.”

Barry navigated through six rounds of chemo, and enrolled in a clinical trial with our Regional Cancer Program at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre through the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network. “I was excited to be part of a trial. It means I am well looked after, but it’s also a chance for me to potentially help somebody else who might experience what I have.”

Today, Barry is doing well with a very positive attitude and outlook. His cancer is controlled and he still remains on the clinical trial drug and daily chemo pills with appointments at the Regional Cancer Program every four months. “This has given me a fresh and renewed faith. I have a second chance. I am grateful and thankful for my family and the wonderful care I received from all of my health care providers who exemplified a true culture of care,” he said. “I’m also thankful for the Tbaytel Tamarack House. That service was invaluable for our family and community.” Tbaytel Tamarack House is a home away from home for cancer patients who live in communities outside of Thunder Bay and need to stay near the Hospital to access care.

If you ever have the chance to talk to Barry, there is no doubt that this man is a born-and-bread Canadian Northern ‘pioneer’ boy, an adventurer, a hard worker, and a family man. His life stories that he shares are full of fun, adventure, and a few scares here and there – it comes with the territory. In addition to his extensive knowledge about the outdoors, Barry also shares his knowledge about survival.

“I want people to know to never give up hope. Keep a positive attitude and stay the course. Although I have good days and bad days now, I can still do what I love to do, and I’m grateful. Just remember, never let go of the boat that’s sinking. It will drift you to shore.”