On Living: Why I’m Walking in Light The Night
There are moments in life that reveal your nature. They challenge your perspective and leave you forever changed. That moment for me came on Valentine’s Day in 2015. After a busy day, I was overcome with exhaustion to the point where I couldn’t even walk. For the first time ever, I dialed 9-1-1. Those three numbers triggered a sequence of events that would alter my life forever.
I wasn’t just exhausted; it turned out I was very, very sick. Not long after that 9-1-1 call, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). To further complicate things, my AML had two mutations (FLT3-ITD and translocation 6:9) that accelerated AML growth and caused chromosomes 6 and 9 swap roles. In other words, I was immune to chemotherapy. My condition was life threatening. My prognosis was not promising. Doctors gave me a 20 percent chance of survival.
Related Topic: learn more about my journey with AML in my On Living talk.
For me, coming face to face with my humanity was not the difficult part. Facing the high probability that I would not get more time to create, to serve, and live … to have more time … was deeply affecting me. At the outset, it was clear that I could do one of two things: I could give in to my illness, or I could fight. I never lost my inner strength.
During my battle, I realized that there are soft factors that determine success. One is your mental state. How badly do you want to win, and what will it take to get you there? I knew that if I was going to win, I’d have to keep working because the passion that drives my work and the dedicated people I work with are what keep me inspired and focused in life.
I’m fortunate enough to love what I do. Being surrounded by family and the people at OpenText who are passionate about what they do and are genuinely concerned for each other’s wellbeing was a source of strength for me. Staying connected to my family at OpenText helped me to stay the course and keep fighting. My work gave me purpose, but my OpenText family fuelled me. They gave me the energy and support I needed to fight. Even when my odds of survival dropped lower, my support network sustained me.
I’ve emerged from this experience with a new philosophy on life: This is not a practice time, this is for real. It’s important to make the most of the time we have: to learn, to teach. Be hard on opinions. Provide respect for all those around you. I’m committed to providing service and making a difference in the community – then leading with personal satisfaction. I am inspired to help others and to do what I can to make a difference. That’s why I’m honoured to be co-chair of Light The Night Toronto, sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC).
My treatments included many drugs that wouldn’t exist if not for innovation. One drug was derived from a fungus on Easter Island and another from sea sponges. Innovation saved my life. That’s why I support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada and events like Light The Night. The goal of LLSC is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and provide information and support to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. With our help, LLSC can continue to conduct research and come up with innovations that will eradicate cancers and diseases, saving many more lives.
Light The Night brings strength to our communities. It shows patients and survivors that they are not alone. Your fight never ends, it changes shape, for many the fight is just beginning. I urge everyone to join me and Team OpenText this October as we walk together to find a cure. Learn more about why I’m a part of Light The Night.
Register with Team OpenText to participate in a walk, support a colleague, friend or family member, or sponsor me.
OpenText Team Calgary – Saturday, October 15
OpenText Team Montreal – Saturday, October 15
OpenText Team Toronto – Wednesday, October 19 (I will be walking in this event)
OpenText Team Ottawa – Saturday, October 22
Together, we will fund innovation. Together, we will find a cure.