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Fighting the Good Fight

Posted by Mike Gales on

When writing blog posts I usually try to stick to pertinent information to get my readers into the best shape possible and I usually don’t get too personal. Yet recently I had the privilege of partaking in a fund raising event that benefits cancer patients and I wanted to share that experience with you guys. I know that this is supposed to be a health and fitness site but I figured that there is nothing more detrimental to your health or your fitness than getting cancer. I think that all of us will have our lives touched by cancer at one point or another. Luckily I have never had cancer but I have had a few close relatives pass away and recently two of my closest friends were diagnosed and they are only in their forties. Cancer is not biased and doesn’t discriminate as it affects the young, the old as well as the rich and poor alike. To me cancer is a pure evil that I hope gets vanquished within my life time. If there is ever anything that I could do to raise awareness and help fight this devil (including writing blog posts like this one) then I’m more than happy to do it with a smile on my face.

In Montreal at the McGill University Health Center resides the Cedars Cancer Center where there is an actual bell that patients ring to signal their final chemotherapy or radiation treatment. A former patient and cancer survivor named Judy Martin created a fundraising drive called to The Bell Fund in collaboration with the Cedars Cancer Foundation to help the patients at that hospital be a little more comfortable as they endure their treatments and work their way towards being able to ring that bell. The goal of the fund is to supply every patient with a Comfort Kit that consists of some reading material, a note pad, a pen, a water bottle, some soothing mint candies along with a specially designed blanket to keep them warm.

I found this to be such a great idea because most of the emphasis is placed on all the calculated physiological science of destroying cancer and we often forget that there is huge psychological and emotional battle that must be conquered as well. I don’t pretend to know the way that cancer ravages both your body and soul but I’m sure that it is in those moments when a person is away from the comforts of their own home and in the cold environment of a hospital that a dose of reality sets in;

“OMG… I could die from this.” and if there is ever a moment in a person’s life that they could use a little extra comfort then that has to be it.

I can imagine myself siting there, receiving the treatment and being consumed with fear and anxiety as my thoughts race to all of the potential negative outcomes. I can also imagine that your system is weak, that you are mentally and physically exhausted and that you are probably freezing cold. Yet now you have this little comfort kit to quench your thirst, keep you warm, help pass the time and keep your thoughts from straying into negative territory. I’m sure that it is all a horrific experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and if these little kits can make those difficult moments even a tiny bit more comfortable… then they are definitely a blessing.

Fast forward to my role in all of this;

Scott Chapman (a cancer survivor) came up with a great idea to help raise awareness and money for the Bell Fund. He helped organize a charity boxing event called Fight for the Bell that would feature 4 amateur boxing bouts and then he, himself would box in an exhibition bout against a seasoned boxer (yours truly) in the main event. To add some glitter and authenticity to the bout he was also able to enlist former Middle-Weight World Champion Otis Grant as a celebrity referee and current Canadian and IBF Middle-Weight Champ Francis Lafreniere and current Canadian Super Middle-Weight Champ Shakeel Phinn as celebrity corner men.

(From left to right Shakeel Phinn, Scott Chapman, Francis Lafreniere, Otis Grant)

Why Fight for the Bell? Why would anyone organize a boxing event to raise money for cancer? I guess it’s always a great incentive to see an actual cancer survivor bounce back post treatment and get into phenomenal shape but I think that Scott saw the symbolism in boxing as a great analogy to explain to other people that having cancer is a battle. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, there is no way around it…it’s going to be a fight! When you are in a boxing ring with an opponent, you are really in that ring all alone. You may have other people cheering you on from the outside and they can wish all of the best for you… but in the end it is you that has to fight. No one can do it for you. If you have cancer then you need to screw your courage to the sticking place and confront that Goliath of a foe with everything that you have in you. You can’t play nice with cancer, there is no phoning it in or any half efforts …and so you fight hard and you fight to win.

After it was all over I began to look at this from Scott’s point of view and I must admit that I was in awe. Few people will ever know what it takes to walk through those ropes and step into the ring, so let give me give you some perspective. Keep in mind that most Americans list speaking in front of a crowd as their main phobia. Now imagine that you are center stage, under the bright lights, enduring the hardest workout that a person could ever do…with your family and friends all watching…you’re half naked….oh and one more small thing… someone is trying their best to hurt you!

Like most of you I had seen other boxing fund raising events where not one real punch was thrown and when I asked Scott about his expectations in the ring , his only comment was;

“Let me have it and if I escape with nothing less than a black eye, I will be disappointed.”

Even though it was only an exhibition bout we were still throwing real punches in that ring and there was a tangible risk that someone could get hurt …and by someone I mean Scott! At 210lbs I have about a 40lbs weight advantage. I’ve also been boxing for about 20 years and fighting in front of a crowd is nothing new to me. So let me tell you that Scott was really putting himself out there signing on to fight for three full rounds against a much heavier opponent without ever having had a fight in his entire life.

When I was a boy I used to watch wresting on TV and the announcer (Gorilla Monsoon) would throw out the term “Intestinal Fortitude” and that is the exact term that comes to mind when I think of Scott headlining this event. I remember thinking that it takes a huge amount of courage to do what he just did but I guess when you have already fought and beat up the heavyweight champion known as “The Big C” then fighting little ol me is a piece of cake.

I would like to take a quick moment to thank Judy Martin and commend her for all that she has done to help fellow cancer patients. I also want to thank Otis Grant, Francis Lafreniere and Shakeel Phinn for taking the time to participate in this great event. These have to be three of the classiest gentlemen in all of professional sports. And I finally I want to thank and acknowledge Scott Chapman for really putting himself out there to support fellow cancer patients and literally fighting the good fight.

(From left to right Scott Chapman, Otis Grant, Mike Gales)

If you are curious about the Bell Fund or perhaps would like to make a donation then please click on the link below.

https://www.cedars.ca/cedars/en/funds_and_fellowships/bell_fund

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