Truck thieves stole more than just wheels

A bout with leukemia six years ago prompted Chris Landstad to change his life.

He got out more on his kayak and bike. He joined in charity fundraiser walks, especially those to do with cancer, ALS and MS, as those have touched his life. His appreciation for every moment of life deepened.

A year and a half ago, Brenda Kachur entered his life. The couple shared common interests, especially in camping and hiking, and Landstad got Kachur to dust off her skis.

Life was good. They'd load up the kayak or camping gear into Landstad's burgundy 1997 Ford Ranger extended cab and head for the hills.

Then the phone rang on Sept. 3.

"It was horribly devastating, shocking, it was awful. He is a very kind man. For this to happen to him - he's a pillar of society," said Kachur.

Not only was the original leukemia back, but a second type - the same type of cancer that former MLA Sindi Hawkins succumbed to earlier this week - was also present.

Landstad, 48, had to put his job doing road maintenance for the City on hold until at least 2012. He put everything on hold and, for a second time in less than a decade, was back in hospital in Vancouver, fighting for his life.

And while he was there, hooked up to intravenous tubes and dealing with the sickness that chemotherapy brings on, someone stole the truck from outside his Kamloops home.

Kachur said Thursday the loss of the truck is a big weight on the shoulders of a man who already has a huge load.

"So this poor man, hooked up to a dozen intravenous bags, has to phone police from Vancouver General Hospital to file a stolen vehicle report," she said.

"Today, he has to have ICBC come to his hospital bed to fill out forms."

She and Landstad's family are helping as best they can. But other than calling police, what could they do?

It isn't just the cost of replacing the truck. In it, was a photo of Landstad's mother, who died from ALS a few years ago, that he always took with him on bike rides. There was also an angel clip she'd given him, and photos of his daughters and granddaughter.

All are gone.

"He's in the hospital fighting this battle for his life. It just seems so wrong."

The truck factored into the days, weeks and months ahead. The two talked about Kachur using it to drive safely across the Coquihalla highway to Vancouver to see him this winter. They talked about taking the truck on camping trips next summer. It was a part of creating a future that is not certain right now.

"It is more than just a truck. It's peace of mind. It's part of his bucket list. It helps him think about the future," said Kachur.

"It bothered me so much to go up to his house and see his truck gone."

Landstad's dad lives right next door. He and other neighbours are keeping a close eye on the property, and the security cameras have been beefed up.

But that doesn't bring back the truck.

"It's only a truck. But it's what it represented," said Kachur, who is a nurse.

"I can't help him with his illness. I can help with this. The freedom and independence was taken away."

She'd like anyone who knows anything to report it to the police or Crimestoppers.

"Chris is no victim. He would not want to be portrayed as a victim at all. . . . He just deserves some peace and happiness."

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