Wings Magazine

Coast to coast to cure

sgFeb. 24, 2009 – Pilots consistently train for the “what ifs.” Our regimented training spills over to our everyday lives by how we handle and confront life’s issues and its “curve balls.”

February 24, 2009  By Captain Doug Morris


Pilots consistently train for the “what ifs.” Our regimented training spills over to our everyday lives by how we handle and confront life’s issues and its “curve balls.” This also holds true for health matters. We know change can be on the horizon and we will be ready for it- or so we think.

We start our aviation careers by maintaining a reserved approach to doctors. (At least I did). Only tell them what they need to know. Let them find the problems. However, as we move up through the ranks of aviation and near middle age we take on a different approach. Tell them everything.

A case in point, my last company medical discovered a mole on my back. I let it slide for awhile, but finally made an appointment with a skin specialist. Actually, the appointment was for dry skin on my forehead that wouldn’t quite heal.

Having flown internationally for several years, much of it over the North Pole, made me think more about cosmic radiation and its contributing effectiveness to skin cancer. Even though there is no conclusive evidence about the effects of long haul flights, northern latitudes and higher altitudes- this got me thinking -even more so after flying with a soon to be retired captain who recapped his venture with progressive skin treatment. A quick blast of liquid nitrogen from the specialist ratified my skin ailment, but I nonchalantly mentioned my mole. After pulling up my shirt, the doctor went silent. Twenty minutes later it was removed and sent for a biopsy. My story ended on a happy note.


A fellow co-worker was not so fortunate. Scott Lyon, an Air Canada overseas Boeing 777 pilot, felt more fatigued than usual when he retuned home from London, England. This was not typical jet lag lethargy which any spouse would shrug off as the “dopey days.” Scotty knew something was awry. After a battery of tests, this airman’s wings were clipped with a diagnosis of rare T-cell lymphoma cancer.

The aviation world is small, interconnected and I’m amazed who knows who in this business. Both Scott and I flew together on the east coast for a connector airline. Scott loves boating, skiing and golf and probably doesn’t remember the time he and I golfed in Deer Lake, Newfoundland on a layover. Scott and I also share the fact we both shuffled residences from Halifax to Toronto twice during our Air Canada career to keep peace within the family.

One fellow pilot who has known Scott since the early eighties, Glen Baxby, has Scot to thank for getting him into aviation. Scott suggested to Glen, then a young paramedic already doubting his career choice, to take flying lessons. This hooked Glen into pursuing aviation with Scott mentoring Glen along the way. Their close friendship persists to this day. Because of it, Glen has taken up the daunting challenge to bike across Canada in honour of Scott Lyon and cancer research.

Glen’s arduous journey will mirror Scott’s courageous fight. Glen’s trek, adopting the logo coast2coast2 cure, will launch May 15th in Victoria B.C ending sixty days later in St. John’s, NFLD.

The outpouring of help has been phenomenal. Air Canada has given Glen the green light by allotting time off. Both Glen and Scott’s fellow co-workers are lining up to help, as I’m certain any fellow Westjet, Sky Service, Air Transat, military and other aviators would do for an airman in troubled skies.

I met Glen for the first time just weeks ago and I must admit he had some serious training ahead of him to ready for this journey of a lifetime. He plans to raise $500,000 and something tells me he will not only complete his mission, but will have Canada’s aviation world on side the entire time.

I know for certain when I set course over Canada this spring I’ll be scanning below wondering how Glen is doing, yet in the same time pondering Scott’s journey. I hope the aviation world will jump on board with generous donations and support Scott Lyon and the gnarled flight plan he received. It’s as simple as logging onto the  website to donate in the name of lymphoma research. And as Glen’s website so aptly states…because change can happen.

Captain Glen Baxby’s website:


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