Please join me in supporting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) by making a donation to my fundraising campaign for Man or Woman of the Year. I am part of team working to raise as much as possible in a 10-week period.
Every dollar I raise counts as one vote and the candidate who gets the most votes/raises the most money is named the Man or Woman of the Year.
As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with Cancer last year, here's my story...
There's no way other way to say this. Cancer Sucks. It doesn't matter what kind or how old you are-Cancer Sucks. My world turned upside down in the summer of 2015, when my family was blindsided by my cancer diagnosis.
After months of exams, tests and a rough surgery that included a nine day stay in the hospital with not one, but two, chest tubes in me for drainage, I had enough. No answers. Brilliant doctors shaking their heads in disbelief and uncertainty. The tissue they removed for biopsy was large. Large enough to be sent all over the country, heck, the continent, in search of what this could be.
Finally, almost 10 weeks post surgery, I got the call. The latest hospital, in Vancouver, to biopsy this rare sample made the diagnosis--mesothelioma. Huh? You mean the one on the tv commercials with all the lawyers asking if I've ever been exposed to asbestos? Well, I haven't.
We met with a surgeon and then an oncologist. I have an oncologist? Surreal. My option was chemo. I went through chemotherapy once every three weeks for six rounds, each time 5-6 hours. During chemo, I saw others who were diagnosed with cancer and giving all they had to fight the disease. My personal struggle with this disease was hard enough, but it was even more heart wrenching to see what my kids had to endure at the age of 9 and 7.
The first round went ok. I didn't know what to expect, even though for days the doctors and nurses explained as much as they could. You never really know until you go through it. Ironically my first round was on New Year's Eve in 2015. Resolutions and hope sounded ridiculous to me. I was fighting for my life.
At one point during the course of treatments, round three or four, I vividly remember sitting on our coach in the living room watching my family. This was just after being in bed for about four days unable to sit-up or really move. I was watching them as if I wasn't there; I was just a ghost; a thing of the past; someone come and gone. I played the movie out in my head. I'm not there anymore. My kids don't have their daddy. My wife is a single mom. Her college sweetheart that she was with for over 18 years was gone. She was alone. I played the movie until the end. She gets remarried. My kids have a new father. My daughter has someone new to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. My son plays catch with him.
My world stopped at that moment. I remember feeling defeated, scared and very small. Sadness doesn’t come close to describing how I felt. I knew the enemy was at my door. I had a decision to make. I could “let” this happen, or I could fight. I could let this define my future, or I could push back and remind myself and the enemy exactly who is in charge.
This was a different kind of fight. I had no control. All the other challenges and many (many many) mistakes I've made in my life could be fixed with effort on my part. This one was different.. No way to “fix” this. I couldn't go into problem-solving or project manager mode. I had to get in fight mode. I had to change the movie. I had to change the story. I wanted to live. I wasn't going to accept what the doctors said. The doctors could only take me so far, with all the modern medicine and world-class expertise. I was determined to change the story. My story.
After my last treatment that spring I had a follow up appointment with my oncologist. Day one: scan. Day two: results. Waiting is not my forte. Walking into the doctor’s office was heavy. We didn't say much.The doctors enter into the small waiting room. My wife and I squeeze each other's hands. I couldn't get a good read on her. What would she say? More chemo? Thanks but no.
“The chemo did its job” my oncologist says. “The spots we were monitoring have decreased to the point that I can't definitively say you still have cancer. We don't need to more chemo. In fact enjoy your summer. We'll continue to monitor and do tests every few months but no rush. No urgency. You're good to go.”
We stared at her. Ummmm what? Are you for real right now? Aarika needed her to repeat it back. You're saying that you're not sure I even have cancer? The same cancer you said would never go away? The same cancer that, when my local doctor saw the results said I had less than two years to live? I don't need to do anything? No more conversations about treatment plans or side effects? I can enjoy my freakin summer?
The song “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” echoed around in my head. But for the doctor getting up and saying we'll see you in a few months, she might have seen this uncoordinated grown man gettin’ jiggy with it. And let's face it, that's not a good look.
Fast forward to today. I've been nominated as Man of the Year for the 2017 LLS Campaign. Ironically the nomination committee didn't even know of my diagnosis. I realized that when I shared my story and their jaws dropped. Well ok then.
This is an opportunity for all of us to write another story. It’s a story about finding the cure for blood born cancer and diseases. The key to curing this disease, regardless of the type of cancer, is research. Research will change the story. I'm honored to have been nominated. I'm thrilled to be running.
And I'm wondering if there are any other warriors out there willing to help me change the story. That have had enough of watching their loved ones go through this, of hearing of yet again another diagnosis. I'm wondering if there are any warriors out there reading this that are willing to take on the fight. Warriors that are willing to put themselves out there on the front lines to take a stand and say “it stops now”. We can make the difference.
I believe our greatest generation is not behind us. It's now. What will our legacy be? Social media? Streaming movies? No. We can change the world. We can make someday today by finding the cure for cancer so generation after generation doesn't have to endure this battle ever again. Are you willing to pull together and help me raise much needed funds for research? Will you help me change the story?