• James Armstrong

Schiefke celebrating five cancer-free years


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Losing his locks with the assistance of barber Isabelle Poissant was Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulange Peter Schiefke’s way of celebrating a significant milestone in surviving cancer.

Federal Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Peter Schiefke had his head shaved on Friday, May 26, in an effort to raise awareness regarding the progress being made in cancer research and treatment.

“I’m celebrating five years in remission – it’s a huge year for me and my family,” said Schiefke. “To commemorate this, we’re shaving my head to create awareness about cancer and encourage people to get involved in supporting organizations that fund cancer research and supporting those going through cancer treatment right now.” With the professional help of barber Isabelle Poissant from Salon Le Loft in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Schiefke’s hair began to hit the floor. According to Poissant, this is the 10th year the salon has been involved in shaving heads for Leucan, an association that helps cancer-stricken children and their families.

At the same time, his head-shaving event was a fundraiser for the 17th Edition of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge that encouraged community leaders and business executives to host a Shaved Head Challenge within their organization.

Schiefke’s journey with cancer began in 2008 when he was diagnosed with Stage 1 testicular cancer. It was self-examination that provided the first indication that something was not right.

“The good news was that the doctor recommended that chemotherapy or radiation treatment were not needed following surgery. Instead, the situation was monitored with a CT scan every four months,” Schiefke recounted.

Everything went well for three years until three golf ball sized tumors appeared in his abdomen.

“The doctor said this was indicative of the original cancer spreading – the good news was that it is the same cancer, the bad news was that it has progressed to Stage 2,” said Schiefke.

Chemotherapy treatment

Because surgical treatment was not possible, Schiefke underwent a four-hour per day, four-month intensive chemotherapy regimen. “It was three weeks of treatment with one week off, followed by three more weeks of treatment,” said Schiefke adding “It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through, in my life.”

The goal of the treatment, as his doctor put it, was … ‘to bleach you as best that we can to get all the cancer out.’” As Schiefke described it, the treatment kills off all the reproducing cells in the body which accounts for the loss of hair.

Being positive

“I am one of the lucky ones because I was diagnosed with a cancer that could be treated,” said Schiefke noting that survival rates have increased dramatically and diagnosis and treatment have improved significantly.

Relay for life

The celebration continued for Schiefke as he and his team headed out that evening to support the 14th Edition of the Relay for Life in Saint-Lazare, an event organized by volunteers from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, many of whom are cancer survivors. It is also a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. According to the information provided by the Cancer Society, more than 2700 people in the region are diagnosed with cancer each year.

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