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Birdies for brain tumours


August 10, 2016
By Carrol MacDonald

708 words – MR

Birdies for brain tumours

by Carrol L. MacDonald

Cst. Connor Thomson of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) is many things: A seven year police officer, husband to wife Glynis and father to Caleb, 4, possibly the cutest kid on the planet. Connor, 31, has a great sense of humor, is a loyal friend and one of the hardest workers I know.

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Connor suffered a seizure in September 2011 which was later diagnosed as a brain tumour. A month after diagnosis his first surgery to remove the tumour was deemed successful. This good news was soon followed by bad. He was suffering from brain cancer – a Stage Two Oligodendrogliomatumour with no known cure. This type of tumour eventually returns and he was given a life expectancy of about 10 years.

I had the pleasure of working as Connor’s direct supervisor in the District Six Crime Unit. Although technically on light duties, he did the lion’s share of the investigative/administrative ‘desk-work’ for officer teams. Never once did he complain or even so much as slow down, always smiled and couldn’t do enough for the investigators. There were five of us on the platoon and we shared some serious laughs throughout that year. Connor was part of our team; he shared his journey with us and we stayed strong for him.

Five years, five invasive brain surgeries, 30 days of radiation and approximately 18 months of PCV (Procarbazine, CCNU and Vincristine) chemotherapy later, Connor continues to fight what is now Stage Three cancer with great intensity and all his strength.

Fighting cancer and getting on with things wasn’t enough for Connor, who took things a few steps further. Knowing that each day 27 Canadians are diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour, Connor focused on the positive (which he is known to do), taking it upon himself to raise money for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

In 2012, Connor organized what he thought would be a one-time golf tournament dubbed held at Glen Lea Golf Course in his home town of Brandon, Manitoba (about two hours west of Winnipeg). He was quickly overwhelmed with support as the tournament sold out. In fact, it was such a hit he decided to make it an annual event. Each year since then, Connor and his team of volunteers collect prizes, sign up corporate sponsors for the tournaments and advertise on all sorts of social media, including the tournament’s own web site (www.b4bt.com).

To further raise awareness, Connor arranged for $5 grey wrist bands, each with the phrase “GREY MATTERS” – an idea first conceived by Connor’s sister-in-law. As it turned out, these were in very high demand and sell out almost immediately every year.

Keep in mind, Connor conducted all of this fundraising in the same five years he was undergoing and recovering from surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy while still being a police officer, husband and dad.

Retired WPS Sgt. Roger Girard began a district police station BBQ fundraiser. Police officers, executive and civilian personnel from all over the city gathered to support Connor. All proceeds generated from all fundraisers go to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

The fifth annual Birdies for Brain Tumours golf tournament was held July 9 and, like all the others, was a resounding success. The efforts of Connor and his crew of volunteer family and friends have generated more than $175,000 (and counting) for brain tumour research, patient and family support groups and educational events.

Connor is very humble and not looking to be the center of attention in any way. In fact I had to convince him to share his story. What Connor does wants is for people to start talking about brain cancer, share information, learn more and be aware.

Nearly everyone has been touched in some way by cancer, either personally or through a loved one. I too am a survivor. I’m proud to know Connor and proud to call him my friend. Please keep him and everyone else fighting this illness in your thoughts.

You can donate to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada through its web site (www.braintumour.ca) or visit on Facebook to read more stories.

BIO

Contact PS Sgt. Carrol L. MacDonald at cmacdonald@winnipeg.ca for more information.


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