New West man with terminal cancer hosts living wake
Published Saturday, September 16, 2017 4:23PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 16, 2017 4:27PM PDT
Traditionally, a wake is a social gathering that happens when somebody dies. Friends and family get together to celebrate that person's life before or after the funeral.
But 40-year-old Chris Walters wants to have his wake while he's still living.
"It just seems like we know where the cancer is going so I wanted to get my people together and do this—say goodbye," he told CTV News.
Walters was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer last year. Shortly after the diagnoses, he eloped with his wife Jana Buhlmann and got married on an Aquabus in False Creek.
Buhlmann says Walters is one of the most joyous people she's ever met, and that it makes sense to say goodbye while he's still alive.
"He gets to see everyone and everyone gets to see him and have this time," she said.
Walters endured seven cycles of chemotherapy to fight the cancer, but it didn't help. He says he was told from the beginning that he wouldn't be able to beat it. He says the chemotherapy was incredibly hard on him, and stopping the treatment improved his quality of life.
"[Dying] is not what I want to happen," he said. "But I'm in a real good point in life that there's some good closure points with my son, with my wife."
The wake happened on Sept. 16, a sunny Saturday afternoon in New Westminster. Old friends and family Walter hadn't seen in years came from all over the continent to see him—including cousins from New York.
For part of the wake, Walters gave away some items that were very special to him. A cousin in high school received Walter's prized guitar.
"I just want to see it put in the right hands and see the joy," he said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro.