AMHERST – One of this community’s biggest cancer crusaders is again fighting the disease he first beat 20 years ago.
Daren White learned recently the cancer he battled in 1992 has returned and he will undergo surgery on March 1 to remove a tumour attached to a nerve on the right side of his face, where his parotid gland used to be.
“I’m fighting the same monster I fought before and I’m going to beat it again,” said White, who was honoured by the Canadian Cancer Society last year for his fundraising efforts for the annual Relay for Life in Amherst. “It’s the same cancer I fought before, it’s in the same spot and they know exactly what they’re going to do.
“There’s a reason for this. I don’t know if it’s to convince someone who’s sitting on the fence or hesitant to support the fight against cancer. In a way, it will be a way for people to jump on board and support me and I will thank and reward you in the end by beating this monster again.”
White, a popular phys-ed teacher at Spring Street Academy, is already planning to attend this year’s Relay for Life in early June.
“Nobody in my family has ever beat it twice, but I’m going to beat it again and proudly wear my survivor’s shirt again at the relay,” White said. “I think there’s a purpose behind this in that I got what I had before. If there’d been a purpose for me to be gone I would have gotten another kind of cancer. If I’m here at relay it will show that cancer is beatable and that’s why we fight.”
White noticed a twitch in his face last summer while training for the 10-kilometre portion of the Cross Border Challenge run. He didn’t think it was anything at first, but as it continued he decided to check it out. He went to the doctor early in the fall, but still didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until recently that he went to Halifax for a biopsy that he learned the cancer had returned.
White said the surgery will involve removing the nerve that runs from his brain to his face. They will graft a nerve from his leg in its place, hopefully restoring nerve function to the right side of his face.
White said his fight will show the advances that have been made against the disease as a result of new technology and research funded by events such as the Relay for Life. He said it’s his opportunity to prove that the fundraising is working.
He’s also glad he’s fighting cancer as opposed to someone else. He said he was shaken by the deaths of Francis Smith before Christmas and Rick Rhodes’ daughter Cheryl Wurster in October.
He’s also touched by the level of support shown him since he let others know his cancer had returned. White’s friends and coming together to help him in his fight with a benefit at the Knights of Columbus on March 3.