Jeffrey Vallis is a freelance writer and communications specialist living in Toronto.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

I made this video to show how cancer affects us all

I recently applied for a job with a cancer foundation, and something in the job description gave me pause: "We’re looking for someone who is passionate about the cancer cause."

That sentence took me back to April 2009, when I filmed and edited a video to include with my application for the summer student position of In Ride Coordinator with Chase the Cure.

Chase the Cure was a cross-Canadian bike tour to raise funds to help end cancer, in support of the Never Alone Foundation. Donations raised throughout Canada by Chase the Cure assisted both national cancer programs and provincial cancer foundations.

This video wasn't a requirement for the application, but I wanted to demonstrate tangibly the skills that I had to offer, and the self-initiative to make an impact. The video also showed my ability to work effectively and efficiently under pressure as I filmed and edited the video in one weekend. I called in favours, stalked cycling groups and convinced a friend to drive loops around Assiniboine Park in her Ford Explorer, while I sat in the back with the trunk open, filming the cyclists on their ride.

Ultimately, I didn't get the job. It went to a second-year PR major, and I was but a lowly first-year student. But the process of putting this video together was a pretty decent consolation prize. It underscored that cancer affects us all and how storytelling, primarily through creative and visual mediums, can bring us together.

I have friends, family, and colleagues who have faced the personal and emotional struggles that come with a cancer diagnosis, and unfortunately, not all have survived their cancer journey. Both of my maternal grandparents passed away from lung cancer, and my grandpa also dealt with a skin cancer diagnosis earlier in life. My family friend Tara (featured in this video talking about her two-year-old daughter who passed away from kidney cancer) received treatment for breast cancer, but ultimately passed away. 

According to The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, with an estimated 1 out of every 4 Canadians expected to die from cancer. Despite these odds, I still have real hope for the significant advances in cancer research and for the unwavering motivation of millions of Canadians to support fundraising and education efforts.

Looking back on this video, nearly ten years later, I think of all the ways this video could have been better: sound, lighting, the now defunct 4:3 aspect ratio. But, more importantly, I think of those in my life who have been impacted by cancer and how it will always be a cause that’s close to my heart. 

(The song featured in the video is "I Believe," the debut single released by singer and American Idol season three winner, Fantasia Barrino.)