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Unexpected loss inspires action

Lindsay with a photo of her dad
Lindsay Clarke will never forget the day before her 28th birthday. It was the day her dad was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

“He fought. He did the treatment. It worked for a little while, but then it stopped working,” Lindsay recalls. “He did some experimental treatments but they made him feel terrible.”

Injecting joy into an otherwise distressing time, Lindsay’s boyfriend, Ryan, proposed. She enthusiastically said yes. Despite a bleak outlook, Lindsay’s dad wanted nothing more than to walk his daughter down the aisle. And that’s exactly what he did.

“The morning of my wedding he was feeling pretty terrible,” says Lindsay. “But when it was time to walk me down the aisle, he rallied. He was up until two at the party! He even danced with me, though he couldn’t do much more dancing after that.”

In lieu of traditional glass clinking to encourage the newlyweds to kiss, Lindsay and Ryan asked guests to donate to Prostate Cancer Canada. She also honoured her parents’ marriage, with a surprise request for them to renew their marriage vows at the reception.

Setting goals

Lindsay’s dad set a second goal: to spend Christmas with her; something they hadn’t done since she began nursing school in Newfoundland two years earlier. She was still in St. John’s when she received a call from her mom. Her dad had been admitted to the hospital in immense pain. Knowing her dad would give her grief if she didn’t finish her last exam, Lindsay did that before flying across the country to be with him.

“I was so shocked when I saw him, because it wasn’t my dad. My dad was a big man, and this person in front of me was a very frail old man,” she recalls. “About a week later, it was just me and him in the hospital. I spent the night and sang to him. He had a day of lucidness, where he was feeling great and asking when he was going home, but by that point the cancer had spread to his brain.”

The next night, Lindsay left to drop her nieces and nephew off at the sitter’s. Her dad died 10 minutes after she returned with her mom and sister. He was only 58.

Moments missed

Lindsay’s father/daughter dance at her wedding
“Because my dad and I were big talkers, there was nothing left unsaid,” says Lindsay. “We had extensive conversations. We cried together. We laughed together. He told me everything I needed to hear, and I did the same. There was never a question of whether my dad loved me. It was obvious and he always told me. I was a daddy’s girl.”

Lindsay’s dad wasn’t afraid to die. He was afraid to miss moments.

“I graduated from nursing school three years after he died, and he missed it,” says Lindsay. “And then I had my son a year later, and he missed it. He would have loved my son. My son loves trains and my dad was a railroad engineer so they would have just talked for hours.”

Turning loss into action

Lindsay with her sister, mom and niece
Losing her dad emboldened Lindsay to spread awareness of prostate cancer. She volunteers for Prostate Cancer Canada’s Do it For Dads Walk/Run and Step Up Challenge in Calgary.

“My favourite part about being at events is meeting the survivors, and knowing that their cancer was caught early enough, that they get to finish their lives happily and with longevity. I will continue to volunteer and raise awareness until prostate cancer is gone,” says Lindsay. “I will do anything to prevent someone else from losing their dad or uncle or brother or grandpa.”

“My dad was my hero. Losing him was hard. His funeral was overflowing with people, he was such a well-loved man. After we buried him, we went down the golf course, because he loved to golf. It was raining, and all of a sudden a rainbow appeared. It was a peaceful way to say goodbye.”

It’s been eight years since Lindsay’s dad died. “It was really hard because my dad was never sick until he was. But I can still hear his voice when I do something that he would be proud  of,” she says.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a time for Canadians to spread the word about the most common cancer in Canadian men. There is still a tremendous need for more awareness and education. Share Lindsay’s story and learn more about how you can get involved.


Your donation helps protect men and their families from prostate cancer.
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Posted: 2018-09-21 11:13:51 AM
Filed under: dads, do, family, for, it, run, step, survivor, up, walk


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