The tough battle with cancer continues for young Kahnawake father Trevor Montour, who got the worst type of news in the winter: it was back. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)
“It’s been rough,” said Trevor Montour, 39, last Friday, three days before he began his second round of chemotherapy treatment for cancer that has returned.
Montour was first diagnosed with cancer in 2016.
“I had a little tumour, which manifested into something worse where I had to get a radiation treatment, which put my cancer to sleep for a while, but I was re-diagnosed in the winter with a little bit more,” said Montour.
The cancer came back, but also spread, requiring him to go for chemo. The cancer is now in his lymph nodes, and he will go for precautionary surgery in late July or early August to ensure the cancer doesn’t spread further.
The news of the initial cancer diagnosis at age 36 was a shocking and tough thing to hear.
“It’s not something I expected this young in my life,” said Montour.
Trevor and his girlfriend Jane Montour have a daughter Madison, 12, and son Bryce, 8. Through it all, both parents have worked to ensure their children understand what’s going on, and keep the discussions as realistic as possible.
“None of this bubblegum or anything,” said Jane. “This is the way it is and try to keep it (the discussion) as realistic as possible within a very sensitive way.”
The Chateauguay Raiders’ football coach said keeping dark thoughts out is not always easy, especially after a second diagnosis.
“That was one of the hardest parts,” said Trevor. “I’ve seen it go away, I’ve seen it come back. When you have it, it’s in your head that it’s there. People tell you, ‘be positive,’ and do this, but I’ll tell you, it’s a lot harder than you think to be positive even with positive people.
“No matter who you surround yourself with, you always have doubts in your mind… The doubts are even there stronger when you get the second call to say that it’s back.”
Trevor said tests have shown the cancer is isolated to one lymph node area, and the hope is that the chemotherapy, along with the surgery, will send the cancer into remission for good.
He said the side effects have not been as debilitating as they could have been for the first round of chemo, though losing his hair was a slight shock, especially to his son, who had a particularly charming reaction to seeing his father’s newly shorn head.
“My son came in, he looks at me and says, ‘baba. You shaved your head. Now you look like a cancer patient!’ I said, ‘well boy, I am.’ He looks at me and says, ‘no, a REAL one,’” said Trevor with a laugh. “I found that cute.”
Trevor needs to be careful around ill people, or doing anything extreme. This week’s treatment will be harder, he said, and he has to watch how much he exerts himself.
“Getting up and walking around my apartment complex is a chore,” said Montour. “It’s quite painful at times. Not all the time, but a couple of times I was walking down the stairs and my legs locked up, and I just caught myself.”
Though healthcare helps, Trevor has not been able to work at his Mohawk Bingo security job, and worries about bills and day-to-day expenses.
“It’s not nice when your bills start adding up,” said Trevor. “There’s added stress. There’s certain things that the community offers. There’s certain funding, but it’s limited.”
His doctor told him to not expect to return to work before October. As someone who has worked his entire life, and prides himself on a day’s work for a day’s pay, being put on his back and depending on others was not easy.
“I grew up getting everything for myself,” said Trevor. “Everything I acquired throughout my whole life has been on my own merit with my family. We’ve never really gone out asking for help. I see it all the time in town, and it’s great, but there’s always something in the back of my head that tells me, ‘you’ve got to do things on your own,’ but this is a different circumstance.”
Molly Sky is one of those people pitching in to help.
She will be selling taco plates with a soda for $10 at her place down the lane from Hamburger Heaven May 18.
“I heard he had cancer and I wanted to help,” she told The Eastern Door, “and when we (TED) team up to raise money we do well.”
Sky is hoping to make enough to feed at least 100 people – and possibly double that – and will start selling at 11 a.m. until everything runs out.
She also added that 100 percent of the proceeds would go to help Trevor in his battle.
The support has been overwhelming, and Trevor is grateful, though he struggles to adjust to depending on people.
Jane said working through previous issues in the relationship gave the couple the communication skills to weather this particularly tough storm.
“When this stuff happened, there was a certain maturity that comes with it,” she said. “These are real problems.”
Jane said she thinks of The Big Lebowski, a film she loves, through the whole ordeal, and recalls the poignant words The Dude spoke during a night at the bowling alley.
“Strikes and gutters. Every time we turn around it’s a strike or a gutter,” she said. “It’s a lot more gutters than strikes, but eventually we’re going to get a strike.”
How does Trevor keep from the gears turning in his head constantly and getting down?
“I picked up my guitar again,” he said with a smile.