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Writing becomes therapy for skilled tradesman living with cancer

Stephen Medhurst was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2020. His blog documents his daily life as he gets accustomed to living with cancer - as opposed to dying from cancer
Stephen Medhurst, a Mitchell resident, in Stratford, where he spent his childhood.

“Writing is what I turn to and what helps when that stress and anxiety kicks in,” writes Stephen Medhurst on his blog. “All while attempting to raise awareness towards this rare, sneaky and deadly type of cancer, Neuroendocrine tumours.”

Medhurst wears many hats. He is a husband, a father of two sons, a skilled tradesmen, a ‘novice’ adventurer (as he describes), an amateur runner, and a writer. He is also an advocate for a "rare, sneaky, and deadly type of cancer."

Medhurst was diagnosed with stage four Neuroendocrine cancer in 2020, during the start of the pandemic. Neuroendocrine tumours are a rare form of cancer in the Neuroendocrine system of the body.

What started as journaling in hospital waiting rooms during tests, scans, and everything in between, eventually evolved into the blog, Cancer Won’t Run My Life. He has been writing the blog for well over a year, depicting the up and down days of living with cancer. Topics range from a solo trip to Bandit Lake to musings on the future. 

As Medhurst said, his English teachers would probably be laughing if they knew he was writing now. 

“Cancer can change your life a bit for the positive,” Medhurst said in an interview with StratfordToday. “If you understand that your time is not always going to be here, it makes you understand what’s a bit more important in life.”

Medhurst lives in Mitchell, though spent the better part of his childhood in Stratford. Having worked as a welder for over 20 years, Medhurst took leave due to his terminal and palliative diagnosis. 

It was a difficult decision and one which he did not jump to, but which circumstances necessitated. Now, he is happy to be devoting his life to other things. 

Medhurst says if you are not happy with what you are doing in life, figure out a way to change. Towards the end of a project, he would stop and think while looking at his work. 

"What difference is thing going to make in my life?"  

Writing became Medhurst’s new project and he has reported a huge difference.

Medhurst writes for himself and for the cancer community. It’s therapeutic and gives him a space to express his emotions. He has heard from close friends and family that they did not know he had that side to him. 

Medhurst also revealed how difficult writing is. It does not compare to the hard labour that he did for twenty years, but it is challenging.

“I went into trades. It just came naturally. You make a good living but it’s hard work … Writing is not easy. I write for myself but secretly deep down, you want someone to be interested in what you’re writing.” 

Although sometimes frustrating, he has never felt worse after writing.

When diagnosed, Medhurst was given 10 to 15 years to live. As he said, that’s an odd timeline – especially for a stage four diagnosis. There is a lot of uncertainty with the future, but he is intent on making the best of it. He and his wife plan on travelling more and he is hoping to put himself in more uncomfortable situations. 

An avid canoeist and outdoorsman, Medhurst is looking forward to the spring. Long term, he hopes to continue writing and make the most of what he has.

As his blog said: “Everybody dies, but not everyone really lives.” 

You can follow Medhurst’s journey to find living on his blog