HMCS Calgary loses libations in support of cancer fundraiser

Team “Onward” on HMCS Calgary
Team “Onward” on HMCS Calgary. From left to right: Lt(N) Adam Thomson, Lt(N) Sonja Maul-Wilson, SLt Sean Place, Adam Checketts, Team captain Lt(N) Sean Milley, Team captain Warrant Officer Steven Lewington, Lt(N) Cass van Benthem Jutting, Dusty Johnston, and Lt(N) Alex Johnston. Absent from the photo is third team captain Lt(N) Stephen Tomlinson, who is undergoing treatment. Photo: MARPAC Imaging

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Daffodil Month, held every April, is a Canadian Cancer Society campaign to raise awareness and funds to help change and save lives.

SLt M.X. Déry, MARPAC Public Affairs – Lookout

The crew on board HMCS Calgary is foregoing libations for the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

The 4th annual “Lose the Booze” campaign by the B.C. Cancer Foundation is underway, and the top fundraising team is currently “Onward”. HMCS Calgary’s crew created the team, as three of their members have been battling cancer this year.

“I heard an ad on the radio,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Sean Milley, the team’s creator and one of its captains. “I didn’t expect it to turn into what it did.”

Lt(N) Milley was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year. He had to begin treatment immediately. The cancer had been caught early, and with rapid treatment, Lt(N) Milley’s long-term prognosis is good. He is looking forward to returning to sea.

Warrant Officer Steven Lewington was the senior firefighter in the crew when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last March.

“We were sailing and I mentioned to the physician’s assistant that I was sweating at night,” he says. Once ashore, it was obvious to his doctor that something was wrong in his neck. Treatment is still ongoing, but the situation is looking positive. When Lt(N) Milley asked him about creating a team, WO Lewington agreed to be one of the captains.

Lt(N) Stephen Tomlinson, Lt(N) Milley’s friend and colleague, was the Navigation Officer when he also came down with testicular cancer around the same time. He did not have symptoms, which delayed his seeking aid. His cancer was extremely advanced when it was diagnosed months after, but he is well on the road to recovery.

“[The cancer] would have been terminal a few years ago,” said Lt(N) Tomlinson.

Unlike Lt(N) Milley’s quick treatment, Lt(N) Tomlinson will require multiple surgeries to remove tumors throughout his body, and hours of high-intensity chemotherapy.

Luckily for Lt(N) Tomlinson, he has shipmates who are ready to help. Lt(N) Milley started helping with administrative matters, so that Lt(N) Tomlinson could deal with his condition.

“I engaged the Navy through it all,” said Lt(N) Tomlinson. “The support I got was unequivocal.”

As the third captain of the team, he believes the “Lose the Booze” campaign is a natural fit. “Giving up drinking takes at least one thing off the list,” he says, alluding to the link between drinking as a risk factor for testicular cancer. “There is a stigma attached to this kind of cancer; men need to not be afraid to get checked,” he adds.

“Lose the Booze” is meant to raise funds for cancer patient care and research. “It is meant to be a bit tongue and cheek,” said Rachel Mitchell, Special Development Officer for the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

The foundation raises funds for equipment, research, and anything that improves patients’ quality of life. “Every dollar raised goes to patient care and research,” said Mitchell.

You can follow the progress of “Onward” online at www.losethebooze.ca.

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