The Kelowna Capital News lost a co-worker, a friend and an inspirational photographer when Sean Connor succumbed to a long battle with cancer last Friday.
Sean went on sick leave more than five years ago after being diagnosed with a rare and brutal form of cancer, a chordoma tumour lodged in his brain.
What started out as a nagging kink in his neck was eventually diagnosed as something far more serious that even he ever imagined.
“It was like how bad is that?” he recalled in a feature we did about his recovery process back in 2011. “At that point I went, OK, this could be the end of the train ride.”
Though removal of the tumour was impossible because of its growth weaving through veins and arteries, pushing nerves controlling vital functions out of the way as it advanced in growth, Sean traveled to the Loma Linda Medical Center in California for innovative radiation treatments.
A fundraiser was held for Sean at the Kelowna Community Theatre to help off-set the expenses for the travel and accommodation Sean and his wife Sandra needed in California during the two-month treatment process. The turnout for that event was reflective of the impact Sean made on this community after moving here from Edmonton in the mid-1990s.
He loved being a news photographer, equally adept at confronting the grit and heartache of an accident or crime scene, but also having the sensitivity to seek out wildlife photo ops, especially of birds at his favourite haunts—the Rotary marshes or the Maude Roxby sanctuary.
The photos included on this page are a small reflection of that diversity of photographic interests.
Sean was a big supporter of all aspects of the arts, and he staged his own photo art exhibit during his time at the Capital News.
He also loved hitting the road on his Harley with his biker buddies. The opportunities to ride his motorcycle became fewer as the progression of the tumour’s growth impacted his vision, but he still managed to get in one last ride to Beaverdell and another outing with friends from Edmonton this year.
We are all better for having known this talented, gentle and kind man. Our thoughts are with his family, who fought the good fight along with him all these years. He lived longer after his cancer diagnosis than most medical experts probably thought he would, and he did so with a sense of grace, inner strength and remarkable positivity.
A Celebration of Life service will be held for Sean Conner on Monday, July 18, 1 p.m., at the Springfield Funeral Home, 2020 Springfield Rd. The family is also asking that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Chordoma Foundation.