A little about me:
I’m an avid sports fan - both playing (hockey, baseball and tennis) and watching (especially the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays and tennis). I love the arts and studied film at OCAD University (as well as business at Ryerson University). I enjoy listening to music especially indie rock, folk, jazz, classical and spiritual.
It’s important to me to do volunteer work. I enjoy raising awareness for stem cell registration.
I love being with my family and watching my son grow into an awesome person. I enjoy going to church and we’re in the midst of sponsoring a Rwandan couple.
My experience with blood cancer:
In the summer of 2014, I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Throughout my blood cancer journey, my platelet, hemoglobin, white cells fluctuated and I received over 40 blood and platelet transfusions. In spring 2015, an unrelated donor match was found for me. In August 2015 I received a stem cell transplant. In May 2018, I went to Berlin to meet my stem cell donor!
Support during my experience with blood cancer:
There were so many amazing people in my corner throughout my battle including my wife and family, work colleagues, friends, my healthcare team, my church family, and God.
The LLSC peer support program:
When I was first battling MDS, I wasn’t fully aware of the program. I’m glad I can offer positivity and awareness.
The LLSC website was a wealth of information as I battled. I knew when I recovered, I wanted to be involved with LLSC. After my transplant, I was already involved with Light the Night and I received an email inviting me to a peer support volunteer training session. I have since bent an ear to six blood cancer patients. Most of the time I just listen and try to steer the conversation from any “dark” dialogue. I try to keep the conversation upbeat and share my personal experience of how I kept positive, strong and hopeful.
I learned about our capacity to be empathetic. With two ears to hear and one mouth, I found it best to do twice as much listening as talking. I learned that a positive attitude can go a long way and the conversation should be based on personal experience and not on diagnosis/prognosis.
As people who have been through the battle, we can draw upon insightful experiences that other people can’t. I don’t think my peers are looking for sympathy as much as they are looking for empathy, to talk to someone who has gone through it, someone who can paint a picture of what they went through – good or bad.