Geoff Gericke was an active and adventurous Phys-ed teacher when he received the news that changed everything. He was 33 when diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that generally comes with a life expectancy of just two years.
Mesothelioma is primarily caused by workplace asbestos exposure, as an outdoor enthusiast who spent no time around asbestos, he was baffled by its development. “It was equal parts shock and mystery. I was completely devastated by its severity” Geoff said. As a married father of two young girls, he knew that he needed the best treatment possible. Even if it meant travelling from his home in British Columbia.
Geoff was referred to The Princess Margaret and received a groundbreaking new treatment called SMART (Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy) that was developed by Drs. Marc de Perrot and John Cho. He went through intensive radiation before an invasive surgery in which they removed the lining of his chest wall and his right lung.
It’s been a long road to recovery but at 38, Geoff has returned to many of the activities he used to enjoy in his hometown of Bella Coola. “I’ve been able to continue to be a mostly-energetic dad to my (very) energetic kids. And while on a different level, I’ve been able to get back to the things I love, like riding my bike and skiing with family and friends.” he says.
Geoff could get post-op CT scans and check-ups done much closer to home, but he trusts his oncology team and flies to Toronto every six months to see Drs. De Perrot and Dr. Cho. Due to COVID-19 regulations his appointment last June was postponed but he continues to connect with them remotely. He plans to test his newfound energy levels later this year in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.