Island actor/artist’s cancer journey

Ashley and Dylon Whyte of Gore Bay.

GORE BAY – Dylon Whyte is an exceptional actor, talented artist, computer guru, a confidant and mentor, a friend, a husband and contributor to his community. Many know him through his creative pursuits including his beloved art of chainmail, theatrical and cinematic performances and independent publications. As an innovative spirit he has always embraced challenge in his life.

But sometimes the universe throws curveballs that you weren’t expecting and couldn’t have prepared for.

In the spring of 2019, Mr. Whyte started having breathing issues that were assumed to be asthma or allergy related, but his condition worsened over the summer months. His face started swelling and he experienced shortness of breath that was so severe he couldn’t walk without exhausting himself.

In September 2019, Mr. Whyte went for a chest x-ray that showed his right lung was full of fluid, followed by a CT scan at Health Sciences North in Sudbury that exposed a lump pressing into his heart and lung. He was immediately admitted to the hospital.

Further testing revealed that the newly discovered mass was inoperable. At 14×8.5 centimetres in size the tumour was so large it had nearly cut off the main vein that carries blood from the upper body to the heart (superior vena cava).

Never one to give up, Mr. Whyte and his wife Ashley decided they would do whatever was necessary to help him gain back his health. First up was the insertion of a chest tube to drain his lung, then a biopsy to confirm what type of tumour they were dealing with and a series of tests to see whether the cancer had spread to other areas of his body.

At the age of 45, Dylon was diagnosed with primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), a rare and fast-growing, aggressive subtype of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

He was immediately started on chemotherapy while in hospital with a total of eight cycles of treatment scheduled every three weeks. In October he was discharged and received three more rounds of chemo before developing pneumonia in November which he has now thankfully recovered from.

Discovering a life-threatening condition like cancer is truly heartbreaking and for Mr. Whyte it happened shortly after his father Jack Whyte passed away, whom he had looked after until just months before his own health declined.

The Whytes lives have been suddenly and profoundly altered, their plans for the future paused until his battle with cancer is won. This is something they could never have expected, especially with the recent loss of a family member. Demands of his treatment and illness have prevented them from regular work and a stable income as healing has become their number one priority.

In hopes of helping the Gore Bay couple during their time of need, community member Sue Priddle took it upon herself to start a GoFundMe campaign just before Christmas. All contributions from the fundraiser go directly to Dylon and Ashley Whyte to help with the cost of travel and medical expenses as they navigate this journey in hopes of continuing their lives together.

“Ashley and I have been tremendously humbled by all of the support we have received these past months and that is not exclusive to those who have directly donated to our cause. We are forever grateful for the love, compassion and genuine care we have been shown. We would like to thank everyone who has kept us in their thoughts, hearts, offered us rides, sent us cards and their best wishes,” stated Mr. Whyte. “We would also like to thank Sue Priddle for starting a fundraiser and of course those who organize and facilitate the Frosty Cup Hockey fundraiser.  Your selfless efforts and generosity exemplify the power of community, one of which I am truly proud to belong to. All of this healing energy must be working because I received an update in December that confirmed the tumour is shrinking. I still have a long battle ahead of me, but it was a great sense of relief to hear that things are progressing in the right direction.”

The couple have been sharing their story through livestreams on Facebook, generally following Mr. Whyte’s cycle of treatments in what they call “Full Moon Healing Sessions.” They have openly invited the public to join these broadcasts where they provide updates on Mr. Whyte’s prognosis and discuss what it means to be diagnosed and live with a life-threatening disease.

“At first we were hesitant to share what we were going through because there is already so much going on in the world and the last thing we felt people needed was more bad news,” stated Ms. Whyte. “However, a friend and mentor of ours suggested we do a live stream where we could all channel our thoughts and healing intentions collectively. This helped us turn our thoughts around and we decided that by being transparent about our own personal struggles we could hopefully inspire others to see their situations differently too.”

If you would like to help Dylon and Ashley Whyte, please share their GoFundMe page on social media or donate directly to their campaign at GoFundMe.com/DylonsCancerJourney.