Todd Thompson is taking a swing at cancer.
Back in October 2020, Thompson told his story to The Kincardine Independent. He recalls after seeing his doctor in early 2020 for what he thought might be a minor urological problem; he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, at just 45 years-of-age. Because the cancer had not metastasized, he was immediately booked for surgery in Kitchener. This was in the midst of the early days of the pandemic and he wasn’t even allowed to have his wife, Tammy, accompany him to his room. She dropped him off at the entrance of St. Mary’s Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
While Thompson has been lucky, he also credits the tremendous efforts and diligence of his health providers at the Kincardine hospital. His road to recovery post-surgery has had its bumps, but his prognosis was promising and on Aug. 7, he received the call every cancer patient yearns for. He was cancer-free.
Just a few months later, Thompson decided to register with Movember, an organization dedicated to raising money and awareness to support men with prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health issues and suicide prevention.
He set a modest fundraising goal and as his “stache” grew, so did the amount of money he raised. His final total topped $13,000. More importantly, his outreach to friends, family and co-workers prompted a conversation about cancer testing and prevention. People reached out to him to share their own cancer experiences, ask questions and best of all, book their own PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. Thompson notes the PSA test does not give a positive or negative result. It determines if the person being tested falls within a safe range for the antigen, for their age.
Fast-forward to nearly a year since he received the good news of testing cancer-free. Thompson was determined to maintain his fundraising efforts and spread awareness, but he also wanted to organize something that would give him the opportunity to pay it forward to friends and a community that had offered him and his family so much support in 2020.
“Last year was amazing,” said Thompson. “I had so much support and raised over $13,000.”
“I wanted to do something different and have a fun day,” he said. “Raise money but still have a great day.”
Thompson has a background in hospitality management, and using his event planning know-how, began plotting out a great day on the links; good food, games and lots of surprises. The idea of the Movember in September golf tournament was born.
In late spring, he posted a “what if” note on social media, asking if there was interest in participating in a fundraising tournament. Confirmations started rolling in and in hardly any time at all, 26 teams of four had committed to play. Thompson has created a waitlist for those still interested in participating.
Even locally recognized athlete and mental health advocate, Kendra Fisher, has agreed to come out for the day.
The scramble format tournament has been booked for Sept. 24 at Ainsdale Golf Course, depending of course on what the COVID restrictions are at that time. While as of press time the tournament is sold out, Thompson says that businesses or individuals who wish to get involved should reach out to him.
Volunteers are needed to help with running the tournament: helping with the prize table, registration and other tasks.
He is accepting donations of items for the prize table and hole-sponsorships are available for $100 each. Thompson says that some residents have opted to donate cash to the event, so he has used the money to purchase prizes and packages from area businesses to show support for the local economy.
The first-ever event will undoubtedly become an annual one. His plan is to run future tournaments on the Friday of the Ripley Fall Fair.
But besides the fun and the fundraising the day promises, Thompson hopes the chatter about prostate and testicular cancer, as well as men’s mental health, remain the central issues. He knows of no one whose life has not been affected in some way by cancer. He worries that if he stops talking about it, the conversation will stop and that could spell disaster for another father, brother, son or husband. He also knows that almost a year after receiving a clean bill of health, that little voice in his head still reminds him that cancer found him once and will there be a next time?
“Guys my age are not thinking about this,” he said. “If it could be me it could be somebody else, too. Get a PSA blood test. It will gain you valuable time in treatment and that is crucial with cancer.”
Anyone interested in getting involved in the tournament can contact Thompson at email@example.com.
Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent