Journalist opens up about his journey with cancer
Jonathan Gravenor, a journalist and author who has battled cancer, is seen in this undated photo. (Jonathan Gravenor/Facebook)
Published Monday, December 11, 2017 5:21PM EST
It was a journey Jonathan Gravenor never expected to make -- from healthy globe-travelling correspondent to cancer patient.
But he says it was a voyage into his own mind and heart that turned the journalist into an author and public speaker with a message that is resonating with others.
"I have so many people reach out to me now and say they feel I am writing about them when I bare my emotions and inner thoughts. It would seem I am not alone," he said.
Gravenor was a correspondent with CTV News, locally and nationally, for over 25 years. He has also worked for Al Jazeera and ABC in Australia.
It was while he was stationed in Sydney with his wife and daughter in 2012 that he found a lump in his throat. He was 55.
Doctors diagnosed cancer. Step one was surgery -- a radical neck dissection involving a 12-inch incision along his throat to remove a golf ball-sized tumour.
Then he got more bad news. The cancer was advanced: there had been some spread. Gravenor then had to endure chemotherapy and radiation, learning as he puts it to "swallow the fear" of an uncertain future.
Gravenor's cancer was linked to HPV 16, a virus linked to cancers of the mouth and throat. It's one of the fastest rising cancers among younger men around the world.
"The only thing I knew when diagnosed was I had the same cancer as actor Michael Douglas," said Gravenor. "I thought I was a rare case. But then suddenly I started meeting many people with the exact same form."
During his treatment he began meeting other patients. Gravenor says he had to discard the assumptions from his life as a journalist, and just simply learn awareness.
"Awareness has led me to practice kindness every day, to see when I judge and then often ask those I judge their stories, and I am often so surprised how wrong I have been,” he said.
During his healing he travelled to India, and started writing his thoughts. That led him to write a book "The Other Side of Ego."
Among those Gravenor befriended during his cancer therapy was a homeless man who gave him this message: “You will be fine.... you have a lot more to do."
Recently, Gravenor said he was approached by TED Talk organizers to put his message to video.
Now 60, Gravenor says one of his goals is to help others going through the often lonely road of cancer treatment
“It would seem I am not alone, that many see their lives slipping away and want to find a new path,” he said.