My own little Dream Love Cure (mostly love) project
My mom passed away the year Rob [Dyer] and [Skate4Cancer] did their first trip, from LA to Toronto. I found out about what they were doing, bought a shirt and mailed a little note about my Mom in with the money. When I got the shirt there was a response note that Rob and the Skate4Cancer crew had written for me, telling me to never give up and that this shirt was a symbol for the change he was trying to bring. Rob’s changed my life and is definitely my biggest inspiration. Thank you so much!
This quotation is a comment that my brother, Nick, left on the Skate4Cancer Short-Documentary Official Trailer #2 on YouTube three days ago.
I had met Rob in passing a handful of times while I was a student at Ryerson; he was a server at the campus pub when he wasn’t out skating the world and repping Skate4Cancer. I knew who he was, but I didn’t want to bug him while he served my friends and I food and pitchers of beer. It also seemed like the wrong time and place to talk about cancer and loved ones dying, even in a positive way, which Skate4Cancer is known for.
But I had always wanted to tell Rob how much he and Skate4Cancer had inspired Nick. Whenever I saw him on campus, it was all I could think about.
So when I found out I would have the opportunity to produce a video blog for work featuring Rob, of course I had to jump on it. And I had to do something for Nick.
Even though I knew Rob is possibly the nicest, most humble person on the planet (not exaggerating at all), I was a bit shy about asking him for this favour. Talking about my mom is still very difficult for me, and it becomes even harder at work where I like to feel very in control of everything.
Luckily, Kate, who pitched the video blog to me, was able to bring it up and getting it rolling. Rob was totally into it and helped us set it up.
Kate wrote on the whiteboard while I took down the equipment from the shoot and moved some furniture around. Rob took my picture.
Rob wrote his own text and I took his picture. He also hugged me countless times and seemed genuinely happy to hear the story and to hear how one little thing like that note could make such a difference in a kid’s life when he’s dealing with the loss of a loved one from cancer.
Nick loved the photos, so a HUGE thank you to Rob and Kate for being open to making this happen! It means so much.
This week I also bought Nick and I tickets to the Skate4Cancer short documentary premiere at the Mod Club on Feb. 19. As I’m writing this post, tickets are still available for sale here.
You can also support Skate4Cancer (and the future Dream Love Cure Centre) by following the organization online on Twitter and Facebook, buying t-shirts at West49 or buying t-shirts and other cool merch online (the prices are super reasonable), volunteering, and, eventually, donating money when they get the whole charity thing sorted out.
*I wrote a much longer post and realized I should probably just get to the point at the top instead of the bottom (I guess that’s my journalism training kicking in), so the rest of the original text is below if you want to read it.
When our mom died from cancer in May 2004, he was 12 years old. Not exactly a child but not quite a teenager yet either. I was 18, and her death was the hardest thing I had ever endured. If I’m lucky (and I don’t say that lightly), it will end up being the hardest thing I have to experience in my entire life.
So I can’t imagine how difficult it was for him.
While I can say with confidence that it brought us closer together in some ways – we were the only kids we knew going through this horrible thing at that time – it was also the beginning of a somewhat unnatural sibling relationship where I became responsible to him as a sort of substitute parent. I felt responsible for continuing to raise an amazing kid into a smart, caring, productive member of society – to pick up where my mom left off. I didn’t want to let him down and I sure as hell didn’t want to let her down.
However, less than a year and a half later, I left home to attend Ryerson University in Toronto and, aside from spending two summers at my dad’s house after first and fourth years, never really looked back. I worried about him a lot, about what kind of person he would grow up into with neither me nor our mom around to guide him.
For both of us – for our entire lives, no matter where we lived – home meant Mom. And once she was gone, it felt like something was missing. Her lack of presence has lingered more strongly than the presence of the people in our lives who are still living, even in places she had never been. They’re not kidding when they say dead loved ones will always be with you.
I was worried, and many people in our family were worried, that her death would have such an impact on him that he would never be “normal.” He refused counselling while she was sick in the hospital and after her death (as did I, until I sought it out when I experienced emotional breakdowns for a brief period during university), and no one pushed it on us.
Today, though, he’s in his second semester at Conestoga College studying something that he loves. He’s known as a great guy. He’s kind, he’s intelligent, and he’s going to have a great life. Everyone, including me, is so proud of him and I know our mom would be too.
A lot of his ability to cope and overcome that experience has to do with the solid foundation that was laid by my parents when he was a child, but I also know that he’s found a lot of inspiration elsewhere – in friends, in girlfriends, in music, and in people who make a difference in the lives of others in one way or another.
His biggest inspiration in that respect has always been Rob Dyer, the founder of Skate4Cancer. Rob lost his grandmothers, mother and best friend to cancer within a year of each other, and in early 2004 set out to skateboard from Los Angeles to his hometown, Newmarket, Ont., to raise awareness about cancer – and has done so through various initiatives, including other skates, ever since.
My brother always loved skating and he was inspired by Skate4Cancer from the outset. He probably would have been interested in it as a normal kid who loved skateboarding, even if his mom hadn’t gotten sick and died, but it made it that much more important. Once he received that note from the Skate4Cancer team with his first t-shirt, he held onto that connection and will probably cherish it for the rest of his life.
While that first t-shirt was probably trashed long ago from wear and tear (he would wear those tees until they were full of holes and coming apart at the seams, like any self-respecting teenage boy), he still has that note. He still beams about Rob, whom he’s met at various events over the years. He’s bought countless t-shirts since; I just gave him one as a gift for Christmas and he loved it.
Rob is one of his personal heroes.