After another round of chemo and radiation in August, Al Silvester became obsessed with telling his story and raising money for blood cancer research.
His wife Laurie said he talked about it non-stop for days. In fact, at one point, she said to him, “Honey, you’ve got to slow down because you are making me dizzy here.”
Al, a longtime Surrey resident, was diagnosed with blood cancer in November 2021. Non-Hodgkin Follicular Lymphoma. It was non-curable. Although he had several tumours throughout his body, the doctors initially told him that treatment would give him a good chance at a normal life for several years.
At the time, his niece was being treated for Leukemia, which she had been battling since she was 17 months old. She is now four and was given the all-clear of her cancer in April.
All things considered, the couple created a fundraising page on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada website, with a goal to raise $88,000 (88 being Al’s favourite number).
Al finished his treatments at the end of May 2022. Shortly after, doctors said the tumours were gone. In July, he got COVID, which wreaked havoc on his weekend immune system.
And in August 2022, doctors informed Al that cancer had returned, this time in his shoulder. This was when he became adamant about raising money and sharing his story.
“He literally started writing in his little notebook that he used for his appointments,” Laurie said.
And when he went into the ICU, Al told her, “Honey, we’ve got to do this.”
Tragically, Al would never leave the ICU.
He died on Sunday (Sept. 25) at Surrey Memorial Hospital. He was 55.
Laurie said they spent their last year together making the most out of life. She urges people “to put the phone down to live life, to go out and volunteer, to build the race car, and to get outside because life is far too short.”
Laurie is working to reach their fundraising goal in Al’s memory. Click here to donate or for more information about Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.
More than 22,000 Canadians are diagnosed with a form of blood cancer each year.