Community rallies as North Shore rescuer's cancer returns
Published Friday, October 20, 2017 1:06PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, October 20, 2017 3:49PM PDT
A North Shore Rescue volunteer who made headlines last year for beating the odds against a rare form of cancer is once again fighting for his life.
And a community of people who raised more than $100,000 to help him the first time are once again fighting alongside him.
“It’s mind-boggling,” Jay Piggot told CTV News Friday. “It’s so hard to explain because people are just so generous. How can people be so generous a second time after I just went through this?”
Piggot was first diagnosed with a rare type of bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma in 2015.
At the time, his colleagues stepped up to help the father of two, raising more than $108,000 though a campaign called “Rescue the Rescuer.”
Piggot had a tumor on his liver that was so large it was inoperable. After several rounds of chemotherapy, however, he had it removed in September of 2016. Piggot was left with only 15 per cent of his liver, but was given a clean bill of health.
Now, family, friends and other rescuers are once again fundraising to help save his life.
“It’s hard because, being a rescuer, you want to help people and it’s really hard to come out and ask again,” Piggot said.
His colleagues, however, never hesitated.
On Thursday, fellow rescuer John Blown launched a FundRazr campaign on Piggot’s behalf.
“Jay Piggot needs our help again,” Blown wrote. “Shockingly, Jay's cancer has come back and we are trying to raise funds for a treatment that he is eligible for in the U.S.”
In addition to chemotherapy, the funds will help pay for a specialized treatment called transarterial chemoembolization, a process that involves slowing down the blood supply to a liver tumour so the cancer cells die out.
“This particular treatment can do more for me than a lot of other treatments,” Piggot said, adding that, this time, surgery is “out of the question.”
The treatment is offered at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The procedure is also performed in Canada, but the criteria for who is eligible to receive it are much stricter than in the U.S., Piggot’s partner, Denise Findlay, explained.
“We’ve been forced to seek potential treatments outside of Canada, so that this can be made available to Jay,” she said. “That option was not made available to us here.”
So far, the campaign has raised more than $30,000 of its $70,000-goal.
Part of that money will also help Findlay the couple’s two young sons, but the outpouring of support is doing much more for than paying the bills.
“I think beyond the financial support, it’s the emotional support that has bolstered us again because this treatment has been really hard on Jay,” she said. “It felt very, very hopeless, but with the support of the people around us I seem to have rallied my strength… I look at Jay and I think I have to stay strong for him. He can’t see a shred of doubt in my eyes as he fights this battle for our family.”
As a full-time paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service and a volunteer rescuer, Piggot “is a man who puts others first, and has saved many lives,” Blown wrote on the fundraiser’s page.
“This time the odds are really against Jay, but the odds have never stopped him from going out on a mission to try and save someone else's life.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s St John Alexander