The story of my journey with cancer.
Here I am in 2005. Life was good. I had been working at Highland Country Club here in London for 10 years as Equipment Manager. I was enjoying spending time with our nieces and nephews. We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to the east coast.
I started to feel tired during our trip to Newfoundland but figured it was just the long drive. That feeling of tiredness did not go away. In November, I found blood in my stool and the occasional pain in my lower abdomen. It was time to call the doctor. My doctor had to find my file as I hadn’t visited him in over a decade. He ordered blood work and an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed something in my lower abdomen and next it was a CT scan. The CT scan confirmed that there was a small mass and a biopsy was scheduled. The pain was becoming more intense, my energy level was very low and night sweats were unbelievable. The results of the biopsy finally came in. I have CANCER.
We go to the London Regional Cancer Clinic for the first time to discuss the plan of treatment for my “Large B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma”. I’m scheduled to start a chemo the following week after the May 2-4 weekend. Well, the cancer in by body did not want to wait. On the May long weekend, my heart was pounding, I was sweating profusely and I couldn’t keep any food down. We go to the emergency department at Alexandra Hospital in Ingersoll (our hometown). They quickly assess that with my diagnosis of cancer and state I was in – that I was required to be transferred to London Health Science Centre immediately by ambulance.
The oncologist and surgeons decided that they would start chemo treatments immediately as the tumor had grown enough that it blocked my bowel. This was the start of NG tube, catheter and no food. There were no complications with first chemo treatment. It didn’t take long for my hair to start to fall out so I had my wife buzz my dark curly hair off. I was due for a haircut but not that short. All went well but I was still tachycardic and feverish and the tumor was still pressing against my bowel. The surgeons were concerned that the tumor had perforated by bowel. After several CT scans and consultations, it was decided best to open me up to see if the bowel was compromised by the tumor. This was the last thing I remember before the surgery. I got stronger and was eventually released from hospital in July – after three long months in hospital.
We continued to return the cancer clinic every three weeks for more chemo and CT scans. My recovery went well and became stronger all the time. I returned to work in September and by December, I got the report that the scans looked good and they were done giving me chemo. The cancer is in remission or gone completely.
It was a wonderful early Christmas present. We celebrated with our families and had a wonderful Christmas. But it didn’t last. In January, the pain and symptoms came back. We returned to the cancer clinic and with another CT scan and bloodwork, they confirmed that the Lymphoma had returned.
Fortunately, I was strong enough to join a trial treatment for Lymphoma. They wanted to do a stem cell transplant. An autologous transplant was to be used to kick start my bone marrow after a very strong round of chemo. So, again I found myself on C7 at LHCS Victoria campus on the May long weekend, 2007. I then got a chemo treatment stronger than any other I had so far. It was a painful ordeal, but it didn’t last long compared to the previous summer.
I continued to get chemo treatment until the spring of 2008. Again, I was declared cancer free. I stand here today. I can’t say I haven’t had my health issues in the past 15 years but I’m here thanks to the research and fundraising that has been done by people like all of us here tonight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. To my team, Tlion, my fellow survivors, I thank you.