Five years the hard way

Five years the hard way

My fellow email buddies: It gives me great pleasure to be writing you this email today, for today is yet another significant day in the life of me. April 13. You know since I was little I’ve always been connected to the number four, and I was born on the 13th, so the combination of those two numbers had to be good for me, right?

On the thirteenth day in the fourth month of the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, I had my first transplant. That was five years ago today.

As a cancer patient, it seems that the five-year mark becomes magical when you have completed your treatment. The system considers the five-year mark the “cure” mark, as in you have been cured from your disease. But I have never really been connected to the way the system thinks about things. So as I moved past my first transplant, I set my sights on a more immediate goal. It was the two-year mark, as I was told that for Leukemia patients that is a very significant date as your risk for relapse drops significantly at that point. That is where I really focused my energy, on getting to the two-year mark.

In 2001, I reached that two-year mark. And as most all of you know it was right about that time when my blood levels had started to drop. Perhaps the combination of my two favorite numbers wasn’t so good?

I have always felt it was amazing how I focused so much on getting to that two-year mark. And I got there, but I didn’t get much more before my Leukemia returned. The five-year mark was very secondary to me, and the truth is, it still is secondary to a point.

Given I’ve had a relapse, this whole idea of “cure” changes, or it has changed in my head anyway. While from the beginning I never relied on the system’s definition of cure, now there is an even greater difference in my mindset. Instead of the two-year mark this second time out, which I reached last October, this time I’ve been visualizing myself and the road to becoming an old man doing all the things I love to do: on my motorbike with my girlfriend on the low, winding, seaside roads of NL; beating around the hockey rink trying give my player one last kick in the pants to pull out another win; making my imprint on the lives of others.

Who knows how long I’ll be around to do all of those things but as of today I’ve made it to the five-year mark, not sure any health insurance companies will come knocking on my door as it certainly has been “five the hard way” but the most important thing is that I’ve made it here.

So on this most exceptional day and this very significant milestone from some perspectives what did I do:  I went inside, left the awesome sunny skies outside, and spent the day in a freezing cold hockey rink coaching my team.

It’s pretty wild for me to think about five years ago, life changes in an instant sometimes and mine has many times in those five years. I feel great looking back about the road traveled and the challenges tackled. I feel even better about the road ahead. I’m in a great place now. My personal life is filled with love and joy and I couldn’t be happier. My professional life – I feel I and RealTime Cancer are at a place where I, and many others, have worked to reach. It is a very satisfying feeling to know we’ve made it this far and I’m filled with excitement about the plan for our future as we go and bring this organization to the rest of the country.

Today is a great day. If I get tomorrow, I’m going to make that a great one too. And going forward that pretty much sums up my approach to the rest of my life.

Live life. Love life.


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