SCOTSBURN – The Tragically Hip owned the summer of 2016. From the moment the band announced that frontman Gord Downie had an incurable brain tumour, fans were all captivated.
So many people have been inspired by Downie’s example, not least of all Carlton Munroe who was recently diagnosed with the same cancer.
“The will and bravery that Gord has shown … he’s used this to do what he wants to do. It gave me a perspective on how to cope with it right from the beginning,” says Munroe.
Munroe, executive director of Glasgow Square and the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee, has been a fan since he interviewed them in 1988. Over the years he has travelled to almost two-dozen of their shows. He’s got all the T-shirts and the records. The most recent show was this past summer, on August 12, when he and his wife Taryn managed to snag last minute tickets that had opened up for one of the Toronto dates. Just one month and one day later, Carlton had his first seizure.
The band’s music has formed much of the backdrop of Munroe’s life. Now, the man responsible for that music has also laid out the roadmap for how to face this new chapter.
“Gord is modelling strength, moving forward and living fully; to use this as a period that can be one the most fulfilling and rewarding times of your life,” Munroe said.
Munroe has other sources of strength to draw on, too.
“My family. They’re the reason I get out of bed every day. And I can’t wrap my head around the number of people that have reached out to me with such beautiful comments. Those things are keeping me going.”
Since his diagnosis, Munroe has made a new friend, someone he already calls his mentor. Like Munroe, Allan Dauphinee has glioblastoma but he, too, is proof that you can take what the doctors say with a grain of salt. Dauphinee is bucking the trend of his diagnosis. More than a year and a half since his surgery, there has been no recurrence of his tumour.
“He has been really one of the most inspiring things I’ve experienced in the last few weeks. He gives me hope.”
Also in his corner is a group of family, friends and co-workers calling themselves ‘Carlton’s Crew’, who have organized a benefit for Munroe and his family.
On Saturday, January 14, ‘The Big Bash for Carlton’ will feature music performances from many well-known East Coast artists, local musicians, a silent auction, a special autographed guitar raffle and more, all to take place at Glasgow Square in New Glasgow; a second venue at Wrangler’s Bar & Grill will run concurrently, with music acts on stage there all day as well.
“The format is like that of a levee in hopes that, throughout the day, we’ll be able to accommodate all the people who wish to show their love and support for Carlton,” says organizer, Michelle Ferris.
Another committee member, Karen Corbin Hughes, emphasizes that the goal is to raise as much money as possible.
“We want the Munroes to be able to focus on Carlton’s treatment and recovery. We hope this benefit can take away some of the worry that comes with the many added costs they are facing.”
A Facebook group, “The Big Bash for Carlton” has been set up to provide more information, or email CareForCarlton@gmail.com.
Through it all, Munroe has remained positive and has expressed concern for others, knowing that many are going through similar circumstances and in need assistance. His only request is that everyone has a great time.
Munroe is facing his diagnosis head-on. He’s prepared for the road ahead of ongoing treatment that will be necessary to maintain the upper hand. Like that line Downie sings, he’s “armed with will and determination… and grace too.”
Carlton Munroe surrounded by his wife, Taryn and children Nate, Noah, and Layla. (Submitted photo)