Eric Dorchester

Eric Dorchester

‘It’s probably made me a better person’

South Surrey man shares his story of battling cancer, amputation and plans for the future

When Eric Dorchester was told he would have one week before he was going to lose his left leg from the knee down, one of the first things he did was ask his older brother to teach him how to drive standard.

“I thought, I might as well go do that, since I won’t be able to after the surgery,” the 21-year-old South Surrey resident said.

Nearly three years since he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma – the same cancer B.C. hero Terry Fox had – and one year since losing his leg, Dorchester admits there are still a few things he can’t do, but that list is far shorter than a list of what he has achieved.

After spending months learning how to walk with his prosthetic leg, Dorchester took his rehabilitation to another level by relearning how to snowboard, wakeboard and even rock climb.

“Once you start rehab, you’re in that mindset of ‘OK, let’s get started and get back to normal.’ Now, other than being able to sprint, I’m just as mobile as ever. I don’t know if I would go back and change it at all. It’s probably made me a better person,” he said.

“I enjoy breaking barriers and pushing my limit. I don’t feel like I’m happy or accomplishing something unless I’m equal or better than the average person.”

The positive outlook of the Earl Marriott grad has not only carried him through his initial diagnosis at age 18, while he was in his first year at the University of Victoria, but has helped him deal with the latest setback of the cancer returning and spreading to his lungs.

 

“I found out two years to the day of when I was first diagnosed. Statistically, this time it’s a 50/50 per cent chance, but I don’t like to see it that way. Every situation is different. So if you have a good attitude about it, it can really help,” he said.

Through his experience dealing with cancer and losing his leg, Dorchester has inadvertently taken on a leadership role, offering guidance to those going through similar situations or dispelling common misconceptions about amputees.

With the help of his mentor, Surrey resident Kim Kuczko – who also had osteogenic sarcoma and lost her left leg – Dorchester is now looking to speak at schools and share his story.

“I was interested in public speaking before, but I had to cast it aside when I moved home from UVIC to go to chemo. Now it’s kind of like two birds with one stone, because I can practice speaking in public and also educate people,” he said. “I’m sure everybody would surprise themselves with the attitude they would have once they found out (they had cancer).

“You realize what kind of person you are from it. I think a lot of people would surprise themselves with their positive attitude.”

Dorchester’s family, including brother, Guy, who is the general manager at White Spot Restaurant in Morgan Crossing, have also come onboard with spreading awareness and support for those diagnosed with cancer. Last month, Guy organized a fundraiser benefitting the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, which is set for Friday night in Centennial Park, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

With servers donating tips and donations from patrons at the restaurant, Guy and his staff brought in $1,746.35, bringing their fundraising total to more than $6,700.

“My brother has been the best. He has been so supportive, doing anything he can for me,” Dorchester said.

While he is unable to participate in the relay due to the chemotherapy he recently underwent, Dorchester will be on hand at the Relay For Life, helping organizers and catching up with friends in the community.

And while he is maintaining his positive attitude, Dorchester said he won’t be wasting any time checking off his to-do list.

In a few weeks time, he and Guy will be heading on a trip to Asia.

“I’ve always told myself I should live each day like it’s my last. But it can be hard to get into that mindset. You can just get sort of stuck into pushing things off until later,” he said. “One of the pros to being told you might die is that you would definitely get those things done.

“I’ve been forcing myself to go out and do more and engage with more people. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue doing that when I’m all clear.”

 

Just Posted

White Rock beach was buzzing with activity on Father’s Day. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: White Rock beach buzzing with activity on Father’s Day

High of 27C drew hundreds of people to the beach

This year’s Virtual Hike for Hospice raised just over $30,000 with the support of participants including Marlene. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual hike raises $30K for Peace Arch Hospice Society

Community support smashes fundraising goal

SFN councillor Joanne Charles, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker and Coun. David Chesney listen to welcoming remarks from Chief Harley Chappell (Xwopokton). (FIle photo)
White Rock, SFN grieve together on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Residents encouraged to wear orange on Canada Day

Surrey RCMP are investigating after shots were fired at a white Jeep Saturday evening in Newton. (Shane MacKichan photo)
UPDATE: Surrey RCMP asking for video after shots fired in Newton

Surrey RCMP said a silver SUV shot at a white Jeep

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read