Araj Virk spent part of his Saturday at the north entrance of Langley’s Walmart, standing with his firefighting brethren.
Daffodils and daffodil pins in hand, they joined the battle against cancer.
On behalf of the Township of Langley Firefighters Charitable Society, local firefighters, including Araj, distributed daffodils and daffodil pins in exchange for donations to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The “Join the Fight” fundraiser took place last Saturday and Sunday (April 2 and 3) at the Walmart in Willoughby.
Each firefighter on shift late Saturday morning has had someone close to them affected by cancer – be it an uncle, a grandparent, or in Araj’s case, his older sister Jas Chohan.
Mom to nine-year-old Alisha and one-month-old Aliya, Jas is one of the lucky ones. That’s because the 39-year-old has overcome thyroid cancer – twice.
Araj and the rest of his very close family, which includes a middle brother, Aman, are hoping that the cancer stays away for good.
While four years separate them, Jas is as much like a mom to Araj as she is a big sister.
His sister’s initial diagnosis “was pretty rough,” Araj recalled.
“After she gave birth to her [first] daughter, when her daughter was about a year old, she found out she had cancer,” Araj shared. “She was fighting it for a few years, and beat it. But then it came back.”
Three-and-a-half years after Jas’s first cancer battle which included chemotherapy and radiation, came another scare.
“There were traces of cancer, still, in her thyroid,” Araj said.
Doctors removed Jas’s thyroid in their efforts to eradicate the cancer completely.
“Now she’s doing better,” Araj said. “But she has to take medication for the rest of her life.”
Coming from a relatively small family, having Jas battle cancer “hit pretty hard,” Araj said: “It hit me like a ton of bricks. You never expect it to happen to one of your siblings.”
“The reason it hit so hard is, I lost my uncle, my mom’s brother, to cancer,” Araj continued. “It runs in the family. There’s a few individuals who have battled cancer] or lost their lives.”
Araj – a paid on-call firefighter and a full-time aircraft structural engineer – has been actively involved in various fundraisers in support of cancer research and patients.
“I want to make a difference,” he said.
Symbol of strength
April is Daffodil Month, the Canadian Cancer Society’s national fundraising campaign for the fight against cancer.
Money raised this month helps people living with cancer and their families. Donations fund life-saving research and information and support services.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the daffodil “is a symbol of strength and courage in the fight against cancer.”
Across the country, volunteers are selling bright yellow daffodil pins, as well as fresh daffodils.
Buying a daffodil pin and wearing it in April is a way of showing support for Canadians living with cancer.
To buy a daffodil online, or to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society, visit cancer.ca/.