The McAlpines share their story about their journey through lung cancer since Ian's diagnosis.

Breaking the stigma; Montrose man puts a face to lung cancer

Ian and Kathy McAlpine of Montrose are featured in the 2016 Lung Cancer Canada 2016 ‘The Faces of Lung Cancer Report.’

Lung cancer kills more people every year than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined.

“We all have lungs so we are all susceptible to lung cancer,” says Ian McAlpine.

Ian is a well known family man from Montrose. With his wife of 42 years, Cathy, by his side, the two have become champion advocates for lung cancer awareness, lung cancer research, more timely lung cancer treatment and the absolute need for a national lung cancer screening program.

Bronchogenic (lung) carcinomas are very aggressive, so the scary truth is that survival rates could hinge on where a person actually lives.

“It’s not the same province to province,” said Ian. “There is no standard, and it comes down to the dollar what the province is willing to sponsor as far as paying for testing. It is really awful.”

The McAlpine’s fight to keep Ian alive is laden with all the twists and turns of silver-screen drama. Their intense battle through the healthcare system is one they are sharing with medical professionals, drug company panels, and the community-at-large. The very private couple is willing to put their face to the highly stigmatized form of cancer for one reason they want to help and encourage others who have been, or will be, diagnosed with the terminal illness.

Their story of never-ending perseverance is featured by Lung Cancer Canada in “The Faces of Lung Cancer Report,” a 2016 summary of research and analysis of the lung cancer “waiting game.”

“They never call it remission with cancer, this nasty little tumour has never gone away,” Cathy began. “We were running out of options in early 2016 and that’s when we starting hunting down and really trying to know the next phases of what was going on with his particular (cancer) mutation.”

As you can see, he’s doing awesome, Cathy said during a Jan. 6 Trail Times interview.

“Yesterday, we got the results of his CT that he is still stable our new favourite word is ‘stable’ because the cancer is never gone.”

That’s the Coles-notes version of the family’s journey through Ian’s diagnosis he’s currently part of a clinical trial for a breakthrough drug called Tagrisso. When he first became “subject number eight” on the Tagrisso trial list, he and Cathy had to fly across the country to Oshawa every six weeks for the oral chemotherapy pill. Now, they travel to the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver for the medication, which is defined as “targeted therapy.”

Accessing the drug was no easy feat the McAlpine’s had their family and friends scouring the Internet for the latest treatments logistics like how to get the newest drug to Canada was an afterthought. Time was of the essence because Ian’s condition rapidly deteriorated after his cancer developed resistance to available chemotherapy.

And here’s where frustration sets in. Tagrisso has been available in the U.S. since 2015, but Canada requires its own years of data before the drug will be approved in this country and people with lung cancer do not have that kind of time.

“You are talking about people who are dying, it’s not like it’s the newest thing for a hangover or something,” said Cathy. “Sometimes it’s frustrating as all get out, when you know there is something out there and you can’t get it,” she added. “That is also something that annoys Lung Cancer Canada the difference between the States and Canada and how long things are available down there before they are available here.”

Cathy and Ian McAlpine

This year 28,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 20,000 will die from the disease. The reality is that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in Canada. But these truths may not be known or widely talked about because lung cancer carries shame, some call it prejudice, about smoking.

Ian has been living with the disease for a little over three years and let’s just get this out of the way he has never been a smoker.

In fact, he did everything “right.” He was a dedicated instructor of Adult Basic Education at Selkirk College until his 2013 retirement. The husband and father was always active in the community or at the gym working on his six-pack Ian is a self-professed kickboxing

Just Posted

Time to talk turkey

Five food safety tips for the holidays

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it to editor@trailtimes.ca

Creston-area rail siding, site of 1910 disaster

Place Names: McNeillie Siding, Savalpee Port, Mud Landing, Nelway and more

Smoke Eaters struggles continue heading into tough stretch

Thompson: ” … home games closing out the pre-holiday schedule will showcase some real talent.”

Snowstorm called for the Kootenays

FortisBC advises electric customers to prepare for storm-related outages

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Most Read