THUNDER BAY – Special to NNL – “You’ll never guess who’s dying from cancer. Gather around children, take a knee, and let me tell you a story. I am in the 12th round of a fight that began three years ago. My opponent has quite an impressive record. The truth, which i now find myself at peace with, is that i’m going to lose. This is not the cancer i fought three years ago. This isn’t even the cancer i fought three months ago or three weeks ago. For all of you, this is going to happen, but for me this is happening right now. I need your help to make something happen here. I need each of you to owe me 10 bucks after i die, and i need you to ask all of your facebook friends to do the same. I wanna raise a million dollars to provide care and comfort for people in my position.”
This is the paragraph that changed my world. Up until that point in my life, the closest person to me who had died from cancer was my mom’s best friend. When I read those words for the very first time, they shook me to the core. Every time I’ve read them since (and that number is very high) the author’s courage in the face of death fills me with respect.
The first time I read his words, I didn’t know Michael Antcliffe. I probably read his notes four or five times over the next eight months without ever posting on his wall or sending him a message. His words stuck with me, however, and I found myself sitting in my living room one day in December 2011 feeling compelled to help this man to spread his words as far as they could go. I sent him a facebook message and began my journey with Michael.
Over the next eight months I grew close to this man that I had initially tried to hold at arm’s length. I thought that I could publish his book and still protect myself emotionally from the looming specter of his death. I should have known better.
As publisher, I read though his notes hundreds of times. I became aware of underlying meanings in his words and could feel the emotion that he poured into his writing. The joke between us grew that I knew him much better than he knew me. That changed. We spent hours driving back and forth to the border to pick up book orders. We drove all around town, delivering books, dropping off medical papers, and getting ice cream. I was shocked when he would show concern about stresses in my life, considering he had so much more going on in his own. That’s just who he was.
Michael wasn’t a saint. He was just a man who faced the prospect of death and wanted to leave something positive behind. He has definitely fulfilled that goal. To date, he has raised almost $40,000 split between the Northern Cancer Fund and the Canadian Cancer Society. His ultimate goal was to raise a million dollars to provide comfort to people battling cancer. If it takes me ten years, I will help him to meet that goal.
Michael Jack Antcliffe passed away on August 18th, 2012.
There will be a Wake in Michael’s honour, combined with a Celebration of Michael’s life and fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society to be held on October 5th, 2012 at the CLE Coliseum. The Memorial will begin at 7pm and the Celebration will follow at 8:30pm. Both aspects are open to the public. Anyone who knew Michael, or has been inspired by his story, is welcome to attend. Shopper’s Home Health Care, having been a great support to Michael throughout his illness, has taken on the task of becoming the Host Sponsor. Music will be provided by UHussie, Mary Walker, Married Singlemen, and New Era Entertainment. Chris Holland will bring some light comedy to the evening.
Michael gave up everything to support this city. It’s time that we show him how much he was loved and how much his efforts were appreciated. Admission will be by donation and non-perishable food items will be welcomed at the door in support of Our Kids Count.
Stacey Miller Voss