Hello, my name is Alistair Heath. I am 38 years old and I’ve just been told that I may not live to see my 39th birthday.
Being told your time is limited has a way of making you see things more clearly. Even though there is still a bit of shock and frustration and much I haven’t fully processed yet, I remain full of love and passion and optimism; perhaps more than I have ever felt in my life. So I thought I should tell you my story in order to contextualize what I want to do.
First of all, I am not giving up! I owe so much to my family and friends who have encouraged me to fight with everything I have and to take full advantage of the time I’m given and that’s what I am going to do.
I am very lucky and grateful to have Carine (the most loving and wonderful girlfriend a guy could ask for!!!) and the support of family and friends. They have all been amazingly supportive and I love them so much for it!
This is the story up to now:
In November of 2009, I was diagnosed with cancer. Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST) is a cancer of the connective tissue and, in my case, it is located both on my stomach and liver. It is a rare cancer to begin with and more so for someone my age, as it tends to develop primarily in young children and the elderly. GIST is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation so I have been taking medication with mostly positive results, until recently.
A few months ago, on my doctor’s advice, we switched to a new medication because the latest CT scan results had revealed tumour growth in a couple of areas of concern. At that time, I was feeling weak, tired and my appetite had all but disappeared. Shortly after starting the new meds, my appetite came back, my energy levels shot up and I felt better than I had in a long time, rejuvenated even, and I still do.
The most recent CT scan results, however are telling a different story. Despite feeling good and full of energy, there has been continued tumour growth which means that the new meds are not working. In Canada, at this time, there are really only 2 drugs used to treat GIST and I have now officially gone through both. My amazing doctor is working diligently on a new third line treatment but there is a fair bit of paperwork involved and the overall effectiveness of this new drug is less than promising. Based on my prognosis and the not-yet-known effectiveness of the new meds, my time may be drastically reduced.
In addition, a lump that had been growing on my right hand became increasingly sore in recent months. A biopsy revealed that the lump is, in fact, cancerous. This is a completely different cancer and unrelated to the GIST affecting my liver and stomach. I was given the option of living with the lump on my hand or undergoing a surgical procedure which would remove my pinky and ring fingers entirely in order to keep this second cancer from spreading throughout my hand. Since we don’t know exactly how much time I have left, surgery is being put on hold for the time being.
This brings us to why I am here. With your help, I hope to raise money through my GoFundMe fundraising webpage to put towards my journey of healing and hopefully spread a little love while I’m at it. While I have the utmost faith in my doctor, it’s time to pursue other forms of healing outside of clinical medicine. The most promising is an alternative treatment program, this March, in France. The program is based on self-healing practices that harness the power of the mind to heal the body. Five years ago I might have laughed at the notion, however, having heard and read so many stories of recovery and healing I have no choice but to believe this is possible. This is the first step.
In the hopes of achieving both peace and fulfillment, I hope to take a road trip through the United States upon my return from Europe, visiting as many of the beautiful national parks and landscapes as possible. The end of this journey will take me along the Pacific coast back home to Vancouver.
I want to be able to share these experiences with my friends and family and anyone else that might be inspired to appreciate every new day as a gift to be cherished.
In order to achieve this goal I will be setting up a dedicated web site to document my journey through writing, photography and videos of the people and places along the way. Having been a guitar player all of my adult life, I am also hoping to incorporate this into my travels – writing and playing as I go, creating an evolving sound track and hopefully meeting other musicians along the way who can contribute.
There are so many things I’ve always wanted to do and, like most of us, always assumed that I would have all the time in the world to do them.
With your help, in addition to my mission of healing, I will be able to see and do some of the things I have always wanted to while easing the burden on those who have already given me so much.
Thank you and much love to all