In Search of Ballsy at a Cancer Centre

Written By Robert Hawke

​“Ballsy”ness comes in many forms. There is the kind of “ballsy” that happens when a person faces adversity on their own. There’s also group “ballsy”, the thing that happens when people get together to kick collective butt.

Our friend Thomas Cantley, also known as “I Am Ballsy”, is a great example of ballsy. You see, after being treated for stage III testicular cancer, Thomas made it his mission to raise awareness about testicular cancer. It only seemed natural to push a 6-foot ball - affectionately called “Lefty” in tribute to the testicle he lost - across Canada to raise awareness. His singular ballsy quickly snowballed (couldn’t resist the pun) into group ballsy as he collected ballsy stories from across the country.

When Thomas asked us to contribute a story, we went looking for ballsy at our cancer centre. And we found it at ELLICSR, in the people who work here and especially in the people who take part in our programs.

Laughter, good food and fun music are not what you’d find at your typical cancer centre. Yet these are just some of the things that are on offer when you walk in the doors at ELLICSR: Health, Wellness & Cancer Survivorship Centre. We decided to rewrite the rulebook by creating a warm, welcoming centre for people affected by cancer and give them the meet new people, learn from each other, discover ways to manage the “new normal” and have a good time doing it.

At ELLICSR, you can enjoy cooking and nutrition demonstrations, hosted by wellness chef Geremy Capone and registered dietitian Christy Brissette. If creative arts is your thing, you can play with colour and self-expression with Art 4 Cancer. Explore your inner self in a silent meditation by walking the labyrinth, or groove to the pop hits of ABBA and Katy Perry by taking the Healthy-Steps class. Yes, you can even laugh ‘til you cry with me, an alumnus of Second City, and other cancer survivors. Did we mention that these things are all free?

By the way, ELLICSR stands for the Electronic Living Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Cancer Survivorship Research. Those last 3 words are particularly important: all of what we do at ELLICSR is supported by scientific survivorship research. Simply participating in our programs and giving us feedback helps enrich our knowledge base. Collaborating with ELLICSR researchers on a research study helps people affected by cancer in the future. Giving back can feel really good.

We hope you come down to ELLICSR and become part of our community because together we’re even “ballsy"er!