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Life is brain surgery to Duncan man

Stan Skretting’s scar on the top of his noggin is barely visible from this angle. Skretting, seen with wife Linda, underwent major brain surgery earlier this summer. - Ashley Degraaf
Stan Skretting’s scar on the top of his noggin is barely visible from this angle. Skretting, seen with wife Linda, underwent major brain surgery earlier this summer.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

“I’m lucky to be alive.”

That’s the first thing from the lips of Duncan’s Stan Skretting.

When the 58-year-old assistant manager at SSL Sound Solutions talks about having been diagnosed with a brain tumour on July 31, it’s just the most recent incident in his history of near-misses.

Skretting had spinal meningitis as a toddler, almost drowned and was electrocuted as a young buck, and most recently suffered a heart attack after meeting with a massive grizzly bear during a 1998 hunting trip in the mountains of western Alberta.

Despite all these events, including the July 31 diagnosis, Stan assures there’s a happy ending.

The Cowichan newcomer and his wife Linda sat down at Coffee on the Moon for a cup of java to talk about his beat-the-odds experiences, focusing on his last bout with major brain surgery.

Stan’s discovery of two plugged arteries after the hunting-trip heart attack led him toward a healthier lifestyle.

He and Linda moved to Duncan from Nanaimo about two years ago.

On July 31, Stan had been helping a good friend power wash his driveway.

“Suddenly, I woke up on the ground,” he said.

“It looked like he had been attacked,” his wife added, from when Stan stumbled home.

“I said, ‘What happened to you?’”

Stan doesn’t remember anything.

“There’s nothing…nothing comes,” he said on putting pieces together.

What the couple both knew, however, was Stan should check into the hospital.

After doc’s initial look at his heart and two CT scans later, Linda was called by hospital staffers.

“Do you live nearby?” she was asked. “How soon can you get here?”

“You really don’t want to be asked those questions,” she said.

Scans found a small, walnut-sized, non-cancerous slow-growing tumour, in medical terms called a meningioma.

Luckily, they’d caught the tumour before it got too big, Stan explained.

He was then transferred to Victoria General Hospital the following Monday morning and waited for surgery until the next Friday.

“The hospital and the staff, they were fantastic,” Stan said. “The surgery, that was the worst feeling ever. The morphine made me really sick.”

The surgery didn’t leave a huge mark on Stan, literally and figuratively.

The incision at the top of his skull is only visible upon close inspection.

Despite admitting it was a “weird” feeling having someone tinkering with his brain, Stan’s aura about the entire occurrence is very much happy-go-lucky.

Coincidentally, after breaking the news to a friend in Edmonton, he discovered he also had a friend who underwent the exact surgery the same day as Stan. The other fellow’s tumour, however, was the size of a baseball and he was only given about five years.

Stan expects to be at work at Sound Solutions this month.

“I do find I’m more tired and having more naps and when I go back to work, it will probably be for half a day,” he said.

But the active hiker, biker, hunter and fisherman seemed excited about hopping back in the saddle.

“When I think about it, a month before the July 31 event, at work I was having trouble counting the toonies,” he said. “I was having a brain fart, literally.”

Both Stan and Linda are pumped about life, the tight-knit community they now have settled in, and Cowichan and Victoria’s hospital staffers.

“Life is really a gift,” Stan said. “It’s a good-luck story.”

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