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)

A Sooke 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.

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Food trucks will be allowed to operate in several Sooke parks beginning May 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke’s food truck pilot project under scrutiny

Councillor questions impact food trucks will have on nearby restaurants

A walk for autism awareness. (Black Press Media file photo)
COLUMN: Autism acceptance, not autism awareness

Elizabeth Sparling is the mother of a 24-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Claremont Secondary’s year-long drama class will perform TRAP, a thrilling play by Stephen Gregg, virtually from April 14-17 at 7 p.m. (Image courtesy Colin Plant)
Claremont’s drama students to ‘TRAP’ audience’s attention with thrilling virtual performances

Grade 9-12 drama class will perform via livestream from April 14-17

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

Most Read