Sooke’s Keith VanEyk will be headed to Toronto in mid-January to surgically remove one lung due to mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos. (Keith VanEyk photo)

Sooke’s Keith VanEyk will be headed to Toronto in mid-January to surgically remove one lung due to mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos. (Keith VanEyk photo)

Vancouver Island man needs a lung removed, here’s why

Keith VanEyk diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos

Keith VanEyk thought it was just a tight muscle when he felt a small pinch on his torso’s right side a year ago.

Although the Sooke man didn’t have any trouble breathing or coughing fits, he mentioned it to his doctor in passing in December 2019. The months that flew by amid the pandemic were sporadically interrupted by CT scans, bloodwork and a spinal tap – all the while, his pinch growing slightly more painful.

“It never felt like a knife or a stabbing pain at all,” VanEyk said. “But as the pain got worse, I started to get more worried about it.”

Fast forward to a week before Christmas this year, VanEyk was told the news he never expected to hear in his lifetime.

READ MORE: Asbestos factored into Strathcona hotel complex closure

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, rare cancer caused by asbestos. As an auto-body mechanic who has spent more than 40 years in the industry, he was likely exposed to asbestos during frequent brake and clutch repair work.

Auto-mechanics are among the highest risk for mesothelioma, with construction, shipyard and power plant workers also on the list. When asbestos is inhaled, the body has a hard time getting rid of the fibres. The fibres get stuck in tissues and can cause lung cancer.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, mesothelioma develops 15 to 40 years after exposure, as there aren’t many symptoms that show quickly. About 1.6 of every 100,000 Canadians are diagnosed every year with mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure is the top cause of occupational death nationally.

As a man in his mid-50s, VanEyk’s doctor recommended he see a physician in Toronto specializing in thoracic surgery to remove his lung.

ALSO READ: After a double lung transplant, Langford barber understands importance of safety precautions

In mid-January, VanEyk will go under the knife in Toronto and will most likely have to stay in Ontario for a few months. He pointed out how grateful he is for finding out about his condition in time and the community that has supported him and his family through kind messages and generous donations.

Wendy Butterfield, a close friend of VanEyk and his wife, Cheryl, launched a GoFundMe page, raising more than $15,000.

“When I found out [about Keith], I felt so helpless like there was nothing I could do,” said Butterfield. “These two would give you their last dollar and wouldn’t ask for anything in return.”

VanEyk was laid off a week before his diagnosis. Cheryl put her work as an esthetician on pause as the couple deal with more tests and the logistics of getting surgery in Toronto.

Until then, VanEyk is optimistic about living life with one lung. He has good function in his remaining lung, doctors said.

“Let’s just say I’m not gonna be running a marathon anytime soon,” he chuckled.

Those interested in donating to VanEyk’s GoFundMe page can go online to http://bit.ly/KeithVanEyk.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: WorkSafeBC calls on construction industry to protect workers against asbestos


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

CancerSooke

Just Posted

Royston resident and photographer Tanja Kerr took a quick video of two eagles taking a quick dip in the water earlier this week. Video still/Tanja Kerr
Video: Doing some eagle watching in Royston

Photographer Tanja Kerr ensures her camera is always nearby

'I swear that dog is being good,' says photo submitter Karen Jackson.
Vancouver Island looking for a few good caring canine companions

ElderDog’s goal to expand program of assisting older adults in the care and well-being of their dogs

Paige Karczynski is the new executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. (Photo submitted)
Providing hospice in a time of pandemic

Vancouver Island hospices forced to adapt during a time when grief counselling greatly needed

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

A Seed and Stone rendering for White Rock, B.C. (Seed and Stone rendering)
Songhees Nation to open two Victoria cannabis stores spring 2021

Seed and Stone stores will open on Gordon Street and in the Bay Centre

A new well in Youbou is expected to meet the community’s drinking water needs for years, announced Klaus Kuhn, director for Youbou/Meade Creek. (File photo)
New well provides fresh water in Youbou

Well expected to meet community’s needs for years

Most Read