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A 70-year-old N.B. man to walk 300 kilometres for rare cancer awareness

Click to play video: 'Man fighting rare cancer raising awareness about disease' Man fighting rare cancer raising awareness about disease
WATCH: A Rothesay man fighting a rare cancer is stepping up to raise awareness about the disease. And as Travis Fortnum reports, he’s planning a month-long walk to do it. – Mar 2, 2021

Walking 10 kilometres a day is a lot for the average person.

Now imagine putting that many steps in as a 70-year-old cancer patient and you have Paul Kitchen’s plans for the month of May.

The Rothesay retiree has Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia (WM), a rare, slow-growing cancer found in the lymphatic system.

He was diagnosed about seven years ago.

“At the time when you looked it up on the internet it was a life expectancy of seven years, so for a guy in his mid-60s, this isn’t too exciting,” says Kitchen.

He says getting diagnosed with the incurable cancer is a lonely experience.

Read more: ‘I’m a goner’ — How COVID-19 compounds the challenges for Canada’s cancer patients

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According to the WM Foundation of Canada (WMFC), which Kitchen chairs, about 1,500 Canadians have it – with roughly 100 diagnosed annually.

And getting the diagnosis in the first place can be hard, as symptoms differ from person to person.

“There’s sort of a saying with WM, if you’ve seen one WMer, you’ve seen one WMer,” says Kitchen.

“The symptoms are so different from one person to another.”

Kitchen was familiar with it, though. He lost his mother to Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia.

Others may have never even seen those words.

“I just spoke to someone else this morning, he’s 80 and he’s never talked to another WM patient in his life and he’s had the disease for almost 20 years,” Kitchen says.

“Obviously that makes you feel good that you can offer support to somebody else.”

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So when the WMFC targeted May as a fundraising month, he decided to challenge himself to offer as much support as possible.

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He’s asking for sponsors as he aims to walk 10 kilometres a day around his neighbourhood – with a goal of 300 kilometres by month’s end.

All while still undergoing treatment himself.

“Some days when you’re just dragging I know for sure I won’t get it, but some days I’ll get 11 or 12.”

He’ll track his progress and share online, one step at a time.

More information on WM can be found on the WMFC website.

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