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Ex-Brandonite says cancer fight 'long ride'

Connor Thomson, wife Glynis, Glen Lea Golf Course general manager Jason Earl and Bryce Penteliuk stop for a photo during the second annual Birdies for Brain Tumours charity golf tournament last year. Thomson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011 and has raised more than $60,000 for cancer research in just two years. This year’s tournament will take place on July 12, with early bird registration
ending June 12.

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Connor Thomson, wife Glynis, Glen Lea Golf Course general manager Jason Earl and Bryce Penteliuk stop for a photo during the second annual Birdies for Brain Tumours charity golf tournament last year. Thomson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011 and has raised more than $60,000 for cancer research in just two years. This year’s tournament will take place on July 12, with early bird registration ending June 12. (SUBMITTED)

It’s an odd wish to have, but Connor Thomson would do anything to go back to work again.

The 29-year-old former Brandonite, who now works with the Winnipeg Police Service, has only worked intermittently since being diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on his brain in September 2011.

"It’s a funny thing to complain about, but I’d love to get back to that normal routine of going to work," he said.

Since being diagnosed, Thomson has undergone two surgeries, radiation treatment and will soon start his fifth of six cycles of chemotherapy — all designed to kill the oligodendroglioma on his brain.

Hearing stories of chemotherapy nightmares from other patients, Thomson has pushed through relatively unscathed. However, during his last cycle, he broke out into hives that covered his body and left him feeling like he was on "fire."

"I was expecting the worst of the worst and I think that has benefited me a bit because when you expect the worst and you’re not getting it, you’ll take it," he said.

One of the toughest parts of the whole process has been the "waiting game."

After being briefed by his oncologist that his chemotherapy would be six cycles that are each six weeks long, Thomson immediately did the math and came to the conclusion he’d be done treatment in 36 weeks.

But because the toxic mixture of chemicals, called PVC, kills not just the cancerous cells but his healthy cells as well, it has required down-time between cycles for his platelets and white blood cells to rebound.

It’s also meant, at times, he’s more susceptible to illness as his immune system is depleted, forcing him to isolate himself from friends and family, who may unknowingly get him sick.

"It puts a lot of stress on the family," said Thomson, speaking about his wife, Glynis, and two-year-old son, Caleb.

Conversely, when he is healthy enough, Thomson takes it all in.

"At the same time, if I have the opportunity to go to a Jets game and my counts are good, I go," he said. "You have to live your life as well. The way I see it is they are telling me I have 14 years so if it’s a high risk I won’t go, but if things are fine I’m still going to enjoy my life."

Initially doctors gave Thomson 10 years to live, a number that has increased to 14 thanks to his treatment.

Thomson hopes that number will continue to grow with research and is a big reason he hosts the Birdies for Brain Tumours golf tournament at Glen Lea Golf Course each year.

This year the tournament will be played July 12. It is the third annual tournament, with the first two raising more than $60,000 for cancer research.

The tournament is followed by supper at the Keystone Centre, and anyone interested in golfing or buying supper tickets should visit b4bt.com.

Pledge forms are also available online, with any team raising more than $100 getting two complimentary power carts courtesy of Glen Lea. Early bird registration ends June 12.

"My goal is to get to the end of treatment and go from there," Thomson said. "It’s been a long ride and I’m looking forward to getting back to a normal life."

» ctweed@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @CharlesTweed

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 14, 2014

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It’s an odd wish to have, but Connor Thomson would do anything to go back to work again.

The 29-year-old former Brandonite, who now works with the Winnipeg Police Service, has only worked intermittently since being diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on his brain in September 2011.

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It’s an odd wish to have, but Connor Thomson would do anything to go back to work again.

The 29-year-old former Brandonite, who now works with the Winnipeg Police Service, has only worked intermittently since being diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on his brain in September 2011.

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