Canadian singer, Shawn Hook, shares his cancer story

In January 2023, Canadian singer, Shawn Hook, performed what would be his last show for more than a year.

Weeks before, he’d noticed a bump on his neck and he’d been feeling more and more tired. He visited an ear, nose and throat specialist who performed a needle biopsy on the bump.

At the end of January 2023, Shawn received the phone call. It was cancer. 

A PET CT scan revealed that the cancer was in his tonsil. Shawn’s doctor assured him that fortunately, he had a treatable type of cancer.

When Shawn shared the news of his diagnosis with his family, friends and fans, he found strength in their support. Many people reached out with their own cancer stories and the stories of people around them.

“I aligned myself with a lot of people that had overcome cancer. I found strength in reaching out to the people that had also been going through what I was going through,” Shawn says.

Maintaining a positive attitude through treatment

Over the next few months, Shawn would undergo surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Shawn’s surgeon was able to remove all the cancer. Following the procedure’s success, he had radiation on one side of his neck. The last step was chemotherapy. 

“I'm very thankful to the BC Cancer Agency because they were very conservative and thoughtful,” Shawn says. “They took everything into consideration – my age, my occupation. The tumour board was very conservative but also progressive, in the sense that I was only treated on one side of my neck instead of all around. Traditionally, most types of cancers in that area are treated more aggressively.” 

Shawn maintained a positive attitude throughout his treatment, which helped him manage the physical struggles as treatment became more challenging.

I decided to look at the treatment and the nurses, the doctors, the chemo, the chemical itself coming into me – I’m just going to look at that as a blessing. It’s a good thing, something that’s going to get rid of this cancer. And anytime I felt pain, I made myself think that it was killing the cancer. The pain I felt was killing my cancer.

Aside from the support he received from his family, friends, and now-fiancée, Shawn stayed resilient with the encouragement from other people who had experienced cancer.

“I had a friend and unfortunately, she passed from brain cancer during my treatment. She was so strong. She was always so positive about it. And it's people like that who gave me a lot of strength. It put a lot in perspective,” Shawn shares.

Shawn was in his speech pathologist’s office in Vancouver when he learned the results of his six-month CT scan. It had come back clear. The treatment was successful.

“As soon as I left, I called my family and my fiancée and everybody that I knew. I put a message out to my socials that I was in the clear. It was just such an emotional moment because things were working. The treatment worked and I could focus on recovery.”

Shawn laying in a hospital bed wearing a hospital gown, holding a bottle and making the peace sign.
Shawn in the hospital after surgery

Life after treatment

After completely losing his voice for months in 2023, Shawn went through extensive vocal training as part of his return to music.

In March 2024, Shawn performed his first live show more than a year after his cancer diagnosis. Two months before that, he released a new song titled Bigger Than The Night, a tribute to his fiancée, who he’d proposed to after completing his cancer treatment.

“Music is my true passion and my true release, and where I feel purpose and confidence. To have that back is also helping me get over what I have gone through with cancer,” he says.

Shawn shares that he doesn’t think of cancer as something that happened to him, but rather, as something that happened for him.

It put so much in perspective when my life was literally hanging in the balance. And that to me is a gift. That to me is something that made me a stronger, more resilient person. I'm much more direct with myself, with what I want out of life, with the people and friends that I have in my life, the things that matter most to me. One way that cancer happened for me, by looking at it like that, I see the abundance of positivity and perspective that has come my way that I never would have, had I not gone through cancer.

Helping hope bloom

Toward the end of his treatment, Shawn participated in a gene therapy trial with his oncologist and saw the impact of funding and research firsthand.

“It’s really impactful when you donate and help,” Shawn says. “I just want to say thank you to the people who have already donated, and thank you in advance if you’re considering donating.”

In April 2024, Shawn supported Daffodil Month, the Canadian Cancer Society’s invitation for people across Canada to show their support and help people with cancer live longer, fuller lives. Donating to the Canadian Cancer Society is an impactful way to change the future of cancer forever.

The time it takes from diagnosis to treatment is too long. It needs to be shortened because that’s when lives are saved. And so, we need more staffing, more facilities, more doctors, more everything. That doesn’t just grow on trees. To have more research and funding is only going to help save lives long term.
Shawn looking at the camera wearing a daffodil pin on his shirt
Shawn supporting Daffodil Month