Survivor pushes giant “testical” to build community and raise awareness

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We got to know Thomas Cantley, testicular cancer survivor, in 2010. He had a dream of making a documentary about pushing a giant ball across the country in an effort to bring awareness to the issues.

Now, he is travelling westward in a car with his girlfriend, Samantha Hitchcock, and his director/filmmaker/camera operator friend, Tim Cadeny, doing just that.

“When I first started, the idea was to push this ball across Canada. I was focusing way too hard on my story, and I was trying to complex things way too much,” said Cantley. “It was very fresh after my diagnosis and my recovery. For me, what I’ve been going through lately, there’s no way I would have been able to do it.”

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He simplified the project way down to a point where the only plan is to make it to Vancouver. They will rely on the kindness of strangers and the cancer community he has already connected with (and those they will meet) for places to sleep, meals, rides, water, washrooms, and storytelling.

“Everything has been all unplanned. We have no idea what we’re doing minute-by-minute. We know we’re going in one direction…and if something happens, we just reevaluate. We keep moving,” said Cantley.

Mountain Equipment Co-op donated some sneakers, socks, rope, and a swivel for the ball. Someone donated the use of a car for them to drive so they wouldn’t have to arrange rides across the country.

Cantley said, “The fact that we have the car now, it just gives us more opportunities to see more people, get to places we need to get to. It’s more or less a tool for us; that’s the way we’re positioning it. It’s not like, ‘Oh, we’re going to drive across and push a little.’ We can store stuff, if we don’t have a place to sleep, we’ll sleep in the car, we have a tent. We’re going to rough it out.”

They hope to walk as much as possible during the day, and drive at night to help cover some ground and meet with as many survivors and supporters as possible.

After receiving the six-foot inflatable, the team started meeting people in Toronto who shared their cancer stories and wrote messages on the ball.

“Every person that we meet, we want them to send out a message on the ball whether they were affected by cancer, whether they had cancer, and then by the end we just want this ball to be covered in signatures just showing how many people we have touched and how much cancer is out there, just to give people a visual idea of how we need to make a change,” he said.

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“The whole concept behind it is about community and support. For this documentary, it’s not about physically walking the whole way, it’s about amazing Canadian survivors and supporters coming together and supporting this cause.”

The team is posting regular recaps and updates on their various websites and profiles, and it is amazing to see how people are coming out and supporting the project so far.

They were on their way to Perry Sound when we spoke with the team on Tuesday. As of today, they’re in Winnipeg, and will aim for as many places with great stories as possible.

They will announce where they’re heading ahead of time, and would love to meet up with members of the YACC community, so make sure to reach out if you’re in the area!

Where to find I Am Ballsy

facebook.com/IAmBallsy

twitter.com/IAmBallsy

instagram.com/IAmBallsy

You can also contact us at connect@youngadultcancer.ca and we’ll give you Thomas’s phone number.

“It’s about their story and everybody’s journey,” he said.

We totally agree.

Photos used with permission

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