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Jamie’s Story

In 2013, Jamie Pimek was worried he had an ulcer. The Newmarket business leader was 31, healthy and active, so he attributed the pain in his stomach to work stress. But that pain wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t until his family doctor sent him to Southlake for a colonoscopy that he began to think the unthinkable. “I knew something was wrong. I didn’t want to wait—I said, Doc, you got to tell me right now.” It was stage three colon cancer.

He remembers that first half-hour after the diagnosis clearly. “Initially, I was in total shock and fear. But then my attitude changed. I said to myself, ‘I got this.’ I was determined to fight.” Jamie was quickly scheduled for surgery. His surgeon, Dr. Ian Soutter, knew they had to act fast. After a successful procedure, Jamie began 24 weeks of grueling chemotherapy. “The first week was awful. Then it got so much worse. Within two weeks, I had lost 20 pounds. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

For Jamie, the fact that it was so close to home was its only silver lining. “I could barely sit upright in the car rides home. I don’t know what I’d do if my chemo was more than 15 minutes away.” A two-hour trip to Toronto would have felt impossible, but it’s the reality for those who need diagnostics or treatments currently unavailable at Southlake.

Thankfully, the chemotherapy worked. Next came five long years of regular check-ups and testing. “As the time between tests slowed, doubts began to creep in. Every anniversary brought extreme anxiety.” Over the first two years, Jamie’s oncologists changed. “But I never felt like I was being handed off—each cared so much about my recovery.” At the five-year mark, he was declared cancer-free.

Then the unthinkable happened again. One year after being declared cancer-free, a routine colonoscopy revealed a large polyp. It wasn’t that Jamie’s old cancer had returned — this was an entirely new. His doctors were shocked. The same kind of cancer in nearly the same space, but unrelated to the first diagnosis, was beyond rare. His Southlake team reassembled.

Jamie was back on the operating table seven years after his first surgery. This time his surgeon was Dr. Sara Temple. Jamie felt comforted by the level of focus and attention from his doctors: “I remember Dr. Temple telling me, ‘You have a dream team here today.’ It definitely felt like it.”

Operating in the same area as a previous procedure can be incredibly complex. His surgeons had to navigate scar tissue in an already reduced colon—the risk that Jamie would need an ostomy bag for the rest of his life was very real. It was the first question he asked when he woke up. But the answer was miraculous. Thanks to his incredible surgical team and the advanced approaches Dr. Temple took, he would be able to make a full recovery without an ostomy bag or chemotherapy.

Jamie’s case represents the level of personalized care every patient receives at Southlake. Despite almost overwhelming complexity, he experienced a standard of care often only available in major city centres. It’s this foundation on which we can build the future of Stronach Regional Cancer Centre with your help.  Thankfully, it was. Jamie was able to make a complete recovery without more chemotherapy. “My life was saved at Southlake—not once, but twice.”

Join us in supporting patients like Jamie and the thousands of others who receive treatment at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre by donating to our HERE is Where Cancer Meets its Match Campaign.

Visit www.southlake.ca/here for more information.