Queen’s student calls on students to become personal health advocates

GoFundMe launched to support student undergoing treatment 

Brendan Reid says he has become a bigger health advocate through his treatment. 
Credit: 
Brendan Reid

Queen’s and local community members in different cities are coming together to show solidarity with Brendan Reid, ArtSci ’23. 

Reid, whose many interests include fashion, activism, and music, has been heavily involved in the Vogue Charity Fashion Show for over two years. Reid has become more impassioned about health care advocacy after recently being diagnosed with Stage 4 Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. 

Reid started experiencing an ache in his shoulder he couldn’t get rid of in late 2021. The intense, but inconsistent pain initially led him to believe he pulled a muscle. However, the pain lasted for months.

On March 19, the pain became so excruciating Reid said he had to go to the hospital. On May 20, he started his first of six rounds of chemotherapy. 

“Once I shared the news publicly, the support was immediate and overwhelmingly abundant,” Reid said in a statement to The Journal. 

Reid was able to reach his initial goal of $10,000 raised on GoFundMe to support his treatment in under 24 hours. Community members can still donate to this page. 

“The initial reasoning [to create the GoFundMe page] was to share to loved ones and to those willing to hear my story, that I have recently received a cancer diagnosis,” he said.

Organized by Reid’s friend, the fundraiser was launched on May 17 and has already raised over $21,000. It has especially gained significant traction in Reid’s hometown of Fergus, Ontario, and in Kingston.

“It was an experience I never thought those around me could accomplish, especially so fast,” Reid said. 

Reid said his outlook and perception on healthcare has shifted since his diagnosis. He said his experience has confirmed some of his beliefs about the health care system in Canada, namely that he would be taken care of with “love and the best medical professionals in the game.” 

“I was not always treated how I felt like I should be as someone, particularly at 21 years old, who is being tested for cancer,” Reid said. 

“Since my diagnosis, my faith in the healthcare system has definitely been restored as I have only been treated by the amazing staff at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario.” 

Despite this, Reid wishes there were times he was taken more seriously as a young patient visiting a hospital in a university town. 

“Without the support of parents, the smallest things can feel scary and worrisome, and I am aware that the hospitals in Kingston are busy and overloaded with students that are not self-reliant enough in their health [...] I do not think this should change how the caregivers and staff should treat student patients,” Reid said. 

Reid said it took a lot of self-advocacy for his own health and multiple hospital visits before he received anything other than a shoulder X-Ray. 

“Young adults are learning the ropes to life; yet it should be trusted that we know our own bodies enough to know when more needs to be done, all we ask is to be heard,” Reid said.  

Reid told other students to prioritize their health needs because life and school are always going to be busy. 

“Trust your instinct, and no matter how many times you are turned away, never ignore pain or suffering of any kind longer than you should,” Reid said. 

Reid explained that he isn’t alone in this journey, and his loved ones, particularly his mom, is working to support him. 

“Things like medication, transportation, and general expenses accumulate quickly under the given circumstances. My mom does what she can to work as much as possible, but she is my primary caregiver [...] I know she deserves to be supported just as much as I do at this time. She is my superhero, and I could not get through this without her,” Reid said. 

“Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult in multiple ways—it’s hard physically and financially but it takes a toll on your mental health.”

Reid’s friends have also provided him with support, keeping him positive and optimistic. 

“When it’s been a hard day, it takes a huge weight off the negative mental impacts cancer has on the patient and their family,” he said. 

Reid’s family and friends describe him as a funny person who is loyal, creative, and passionate. 

“Know and take care of your health. Cancer takes a lot away from you—but it can’t take away your smile. Only if you let it.”

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