On Saturday, March 11, 2017, I noticed a very large bruise above my left hip. I showed it to my wife Tracey. She was concerned about internal bleeding so we proceeded immediately to the ED at Juravinski hospital in Hamilton.
I was taken directly to intermediate care and put through a battery of tests. Less than 3 hours later, Dr. Benger, the resident hematologist came back with some results. She said, "Your blood tests show that you have no platelets and thus the reason for the bruising because you're bleeding internally." I asked her what we needed to do to fix this and she said, "Chemotherapy; you have leukemia."
At 1:00pm I was diagnosed with Non-Philadelphia B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
I was 55 years old, married to my amazing wife Tracey, father of 2 adult children, Jocelyne and Jeremy and a beautiful grand-daughter, Olivia. To receive this news was devastating. We were in disbelief and the tears began to flow. Having just gone through my mom’s lymphoma, we had nothing but question after question and it was all extremely overwhelming. After a few minutes to absorb the diagnosis, we took a deep breath followed by an exclamation, by me, of "Ok, let’s get this party started." I would remain in hospital for 5 weeks, including a 4-day stay in ICU for an emergency tracheotomy due to extreme mucousitis which closed my airway.
As overwhelming as it was to receive this news, it was even more difficult having to tell my mom. The phone call began with silence and then mom said, "Well, you know what to do. You’re the one who taught me." And so we began my 2-year journey together. Mom called me almost daily to check in on me and to remind me to have faith. That was her gift to me. FAITH. Thank you mom for the encouragement and the reminders. Your words are the basis of my motto of ‘Be strong, stay positive and have faith’. I love you more than you could ever know.
First Connection Program is a peer-to-peer program that matches newly diagnosed patients and their families with trained volunteers who have been affected first hand by a blood cancer and shared similar experiences.
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