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Toronto-area radio host recounts cancer journey during COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'Corus radio host recounts cancer journey amid pandemic restrictions' Corus radio host recounts cancer journey amid pandemic restrictions
WATCH: Kolter Bouchard, co-host of the afternoon program on Corus’ 102.1 the Edge, received a cancer diagnosis during the pandemic. Katherine Ward spoke with Bouchard about his journey getting treatment with so many restrictions in place, and how it feels to start off the year by having completed chemotherapy – Jan 19, 2021

Kolter Bouchard has been rolling with the punches when it comes to the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has created.

The 102.1 the Edge radio host has been working from home and balancing a busy life with a young family. But an unexpected fight has been consuming much of his energy since the spring: cancer.

“I discovered a couple of bumps on my neck in April of 2020, and I gave it a couple of weeks. Of course (I was) just compulsively googling what this could be,” Kolter said.

“Of course, everything comes up as cancer, and you’re like ‘well it’s probably not cancer.’ Turned out it actually was.”

Read more: Cancer survivor says emotional toll of diagnosis changed his perspective on men’s mental health

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Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy. Managing one during COVID-19 presents new layers of difficulty. But Bouchard seems to handle it all with a smile.

“It’s just one more thing in 2020,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard learned he had stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He said if you have to get cancer, this type is one of the better options given it is relatively treatable.

Throughout this process, Bouchard said he has tried to remain optimistic, acknowledging there are dark moments. He said one of the hardest things he had to do was tell his mom he was sick.

“It got to the point where I had to rush her off the phone, and we were both like, ‘OK, I’ll talk to you later,'” Bouchard said.

Read more: Pandemic worsened gaps in care, led to 30% fewer cancer diagnoses: Alberta doctor

“I just sobbed from the furthest recess of my soul. It felt like I had a new identity at that point.”

COVID-19 restrictions have often meant getting treatment alone. Bouchard’s wife has not been able to accompany him to appointments. While he said that’s hard to deal with, he sees the impact on many of the older patients he has come to know while getting chemotherapy.

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“I’m a young guy; I’m in my late 20s. But many of the people in the chemotherapy suite are in their 60s, 70s and 80s.” Bouchard said.

“For the most part they are completely on their own and it’s just crushing,”

Bouchard has done chemotherapy for four months and says the physical toll is no joke, with or without a pandemic.

“The chemotherapy, it really knocks you on your butt,” he said.

But on Tuesday, he got the chance to ring the bell at the treatment centre, signifying the end of his treatments.

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Bouchard said the lessons he has learned throughout his cancer journey will shape his next chapter.

“One thing this has taught me is that you have to be thankful for what you have, and the time you have,” he said.

102.1 the Edge is owned by Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News.

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