A Sooke man is hoping to build awareness on health management after his own personal brush with cancer.
Bren Keetch, 73, received the surprise of his life when he was diagnosed with lung cancer after what he thought would only be knee surgery in February.
“I got diagnosed with cancer in my left lung, purely by accident,” he said.
Following a CT scan, an abnormality in Keetch’s left lung caught the attention of the knee surgeon and technician.
Testing was performed at the Vancouver cancer clinic, and a short two months after his knee surgery, Keetch was wheeled in to remove a majority of his left lung.
“I never thought such a thing would happen to me. I’ve always been in sports and stern with myself, and tried to eat good things,” he said.
Although he is a former smoker, Keetch said the cause behind his diagnosis is still up in the air.
In 1958, Keetch was one of 500 recruits with the Canadian army who were assigned to clean up the Chalk River nuclear plant melt down in Ontario.
“I had four days of going in and out of the main reactor and we were up to our knees in his terrible, terrible waste water,” he said.
“The surgeon isn’t sure whether it was my smoking or whether it is finally that the cancer has celled from the waste water.”
The accidental, but fortunate diagnosis has prompted Keetch to encourage others to seek medical attention if something seems unordinary or awry.
“Cancer is cancer, anybody can get it. Most people think that they’re immune to that kind of stuff, we’re not,” he said, adding his father died of prostate cancer at the age of 61.
“I want the public that is not in the know to get to know, don’t wait till you’re in a casket.”
Now in recovery with a good prognosis, Keetch has also vowed to donate $1,000 to cancer research on the anniversary of his lung surgery each year.
This year, Keetch donated $1,000 to Sooke’s Tour de Rock rider Const. Steven Martindale.
“They could use the money, I can afford it and I thought I’m going to donate money for people who have to go through what I did and what I might have to go through until they cart me off,” he said, adding the annual donations are also a thank you to the thorough care he received from physicians in Vancouver.
“If something happens, I can’t take it with me, so that’s why I’m going to some how thank them for what they were able to do.”
He has also arranged to have all his personal and monetary assets donated to Camp Goodtimes — a camp designated solely for children with cancer — in his will.
“The guy up there doesn’t charge, and the guy down there doesn’t take Visa, so it’s going to the children.”