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HOME TOWN: Bradford, Ontario
PASSION: The news, reading large non-fiction books,
home brewing, cooking, and running
BR: Can you tell us about how you came to learn about the Balanse Bum Run?
MB: I first heard about the Balanse Bum Run in 2012 while participating in a Running Room half marathon class. The instructors were listing a bunch of runs that we could do in preparation for the big race and the Balanse Bum Run was in the list. Everyone laughed at the name, but when the instructors explained that it was for colorectal cancer awareness, it stuck with me. My Uncle Tom had passed away from colorectal cancer when I was 17 years old, after fighting the disease for about two years, so I understood how awful this form of cancer could be.
However, I didn’t actually participate in the Balanse Bum Run for the first time until 2014 when my Aunt Linda was in the late stages of her own fight with colorectal cancer. She passed away on May 24, 2014, after fighting for about two years. My fiancée and I created a Balanse Bum Run team named “Run for Linda” in her honour.
BR: Was your Aunt Linda well enough to know that you participated in the run last year?
MB: Linda was very sick during last year’s run, so I don’t think she knew that I was doing this. However, she was a nurse and she volunteered at Kelowna, B.C.’s cancer centre, so I know she would have appreciated what I was doing. That being said, another part of my motivation for doing the run in 2014 was to support my Mom, who was struggling with Linda’s illness. It felt like I couldn’t do much to help, but I could do this.
BR: What message do you want the world to know about Colorectal Cancer?
MB: Both Aunt Linda and Uncle Tom knew for a while that something was wrong with their colons before they went to see a doctor. I think both of them were scared and embarrassed to talk about it. For instance, Linda used her medical knowledge to self-diagnose herself with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I can understand where they were coming from, because without their example, I think I’d respond the exact same way. However, from what I understand, they would have had a much better chance of beating the disease if they would have gone to the doctor sooner. In Tom’s case, when he was having 18 inches of his colon removed in an attempt to stop the disease, the surgeons discovered that the cancer had already started to spread throughout his body, so they hadn’t got there in time.
Both Linda and Tom have taught me not to let embarrassment get in the way of early detection.
BR: What have been the highlights and downfalls about the Balanse Bum Run for you?
MB: They’ve all been highlights for me! I’ve done a lot of runs in Toronto and I, honestly, have to say that the Balanse Bum Run is one of my favourites. Partially, that’s because it’s a fun route and last year I was randomly given a new pair of Lululemon shorts at the finish line (I don’t think everyone got those!) (BR: Nope – Lululemon surprised some random runners – lucky you!) But more than anything, I think I enjoyed last year’s run so much because I felt like I was helping. My highlight from this year has been the overwhelming support that I’ve received from family, friends, and colleagues. I hoped to raise $300 this year and I’m at almost $800 with just less than a month until the race!
BR: Have you been screened yet and what do you think will encourage more people to participate colorectal screening?
MB: I haven’t got screened yet, but I will when I get a little older. In the meantime, I’ve completed Cancer Care Ontario’s “My Cancer IQ” online assessment (you can do it here: https://www.mycanceriq.ca/). It told me that my risk of developing colorectal cancer was average to below-average (I took the test twice: once answering optimistically, once answering more pessimistically). I was pleasantly surprised by those results, because I assumed my chances of developing colorectal cancer would have been very high, since I have a history of it on both sides of my family. My biggest take away from that assessment is that I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, so I have been trying to do that. Also, the assessment told me that I need to continue to keep my alcohol consumption at a moderate level, which – as a home brewer – I try to stay mindful of.
Both my parents have been diligent about their screenings after their siblings got sick. Really, I think information and example will encourage people to be screened.
BR: How would you characterize your running skills on a scale of Tortoise beginner to Hare speed demon?
MB: “Speed demon” is a relative term. After participating in races with thousands-on-thousands of other of runners, I’ve realized I’ll likely never come in first place or in last place. That drove home for me that an individual’s own personal performance means more than their performance relative to everyone else. For example, in the 2014 Balanse Bum Run, I finished in 100th place, which I thought was terrific. However, my fiancée, Fiona, was the star of the day when she crossed the finish line a few minutes after me with her personal best 5K time. As corny as it sounds, I think everyone should just have fun and do their best regardless of how Tortoise or Hare-like they are. After all, you get to run down the middle of some of Toronto’s busiest roads – how cool is that?!
BR: If your bum could talk, what would it say?
MB: “Don’t be an a**, have your bum checked regularly.” Linda’s son, Bob, gave me that one.
BR: You are officially a citizen of #BumNation. Is there anything you want to say to prospective Balanse Bum Run recruits?
MB: I think awareness is more important than your run time or the amount of money you raise. Whenever I post about the run on social media, I try to include a link to signs of colorectal cancer. I don’t care if a friend doesn’t have enough money to give me a donation, but if they can learn something about colorectal cancer through the Balanse Bum Run, then that’s well worth it. In 2014, colorectal cancer was the second leading cause of cancer death in Canada, so even if you can’t walk or run in the Balanse Bum Run on April 26, let people know about the disease any way that you can.