Yellowknife’s third annual Brain Tumour Walk smashed its funding target on Sunday, helping Canada to establish its own brain tumour registry for the first time.

At the moment, all the figures about brain tumours in Canada are estimates based on American data. The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada wants to create an accurate Canadian record, which it says will help it advocate for better services and treatment.

“It’s crazy to think that in a town of 20,000 people, we can list off a bunch of people we know that have brain tumours,” said Matthew Tremblett, a Yellowknife resident who has been living with a brain tumour since at least 2011.

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“It’s a silent killer. [Tragically Hip singer] Gord Downie was fine and then, all of a sudden, finds out he has the worst type of brain tumour you could have. Usually, within a year, you’re gone.

“Multiple people in town have either had that and passed away or are currently taking treatment now.”

Surprising numbers

Tremblett first had surgery in 2012 on a five-centimetre mass in his brain. “I called a bunch of bananas a loaf of bananas. I was getting confused, I was having issues like that,” he told Mornings at the Cabin. “I was getting more headaches. You look back and you see more and more that leads up to a brain tumour.”

Doctors subsequently discovered he had a stage three brain tumour.

Treatment in Edmonton was initially successful but the tumour returned three years later. Tremblett has been taking daily oral chemotherapy, in the form of pills, since May last year.

His caregiver is wife Aven. Together, the couple attends a brain tumour support group in Yellowknife on the second Thursday of each month, at the Baker Centre.

“With some of the funds that the Brain Tumour Walks and the foundation are raising, they are starting a brain tumour registry, which has never been done in Canada,” said Aven.

“In a few years we will be able to look back and see our stats. All the stats we have are based on American registration and our population; now we’ll be able to see our own stats, where brain tumours are happening in Canada.

“I think those numbers will surprise people.”

On Sunday, the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada said its Yellowknife walk had raised $60,000, well over its initial $40,000 target, with funds still coming in. One hundred and forty participants registered online and donations can still be accepted.

The Trembletts have two children, aged six and two. Matthew says the latest news from his doctor is positive.

“I had radiation therapy in conjunction with my first round of chemo. That was 33 exposures, Monday through Friday for six weeks – as well as chemo,” Matthew explained.

“I started taking cannabis oil through a licensed provider and when I went back last time, he said something is working and it’s starting to shrink. He doesn’t know if it’s the oil or the chemo, I can’t say which one, so continue it all!”