I hope this finds you all very well and that you haven’t forgotten me altogether! I’m back after an unexpected absence resulting from the significant adjustments we’ve made to the RealTime Cancer website. Our new mail server was not functioning until this week, so here I am.
If you haven’t checked out the new site, please do. We’d love to know what you think. It’s a work in progress, but we’re making solid progress thanks to the great people at Triware Solutions.
What’s new? I’ll answer that quickly.
The subject, “Odds,” should give you a good indication of what I’m going to talk about. For some time, I’ve always enjoyed being the underdog. That was true before cancer, and now, I still love being the underdog. Last week, I was thinking about my odds of doing any number of things when it hit me that since my diagnosis, there are a number of examples when the odds were stacked against me and I pulled through, and also when they were in my favour and I didn’t.
The first big example? My first transplant. I debated whether or not I should have it for a month and ultimately decided to have it as I was told my chances of a cure (staying in remission for five more years) were 70 per cent, while just 20 per cent without. What happened? I relapsed just over two years later.*
After my first transplant I ended up in ICU on life-support and I was given less than a two per cent chance of coming out. I came out. (Seven years ago last week.)
My second transplant was in 2001. I was told my first remission will likely be my longest, which was just over two years. I’m now a month and half away from celebrating my fifth transplant anniversary on October 10.
My final example of beating the odds is truly another miracle that is my life. The reason I debated having that first transplant is because I was unable to bank sperm prior to it which eliminated any real possibility of having my own kids. Transplant patients are 99 per cent sterile after the procedure, and now I’ve had two transplants!
My fertility nurse told me she’s never heard of anyone’s sperm coming back after two transplants. However, throughout the past eight years, I’ve done regular tests to see if I have any sperm. Always nothing.
I was tested in April 2005 and had 0.2 million sperm with very low motility! This was a super-low count, and they were not very active, but I had some! A long story short, Karen, my wife, and I went to see a fertility doc last fall to begin discussing our options for starting a family. We were reassured that with counts like mine, we were effectively using birth control and we would not get pregnant naturally.
So what happens less than two months later? We get pregnant naturally!
The news came with shock and excitement, and while the shock has faded (only slightly), the excitement grows daily. Karen is due on October 12 and I’m pulling for a delivery two days early which would be a very cool coincidence (if I believed in coincidences).
I do want to apologize for not getting this news out earlier, but my old email group was down at the time we were just getting ready to tell those outside our close circle, so I figured my first email to you in months had to cover this.
We’re jacked, I’m jacked, everyone’s jacked! There’s still some shock going around but as Karen’s belly grows, that wears off (slowly).
I guess in hindsight I should have known that I’d be able to beat the odds again, but I honestly was not allowing myself to think about it.
Perhaps because it was too painful, frustrating, or infuriating–I don’t know.
The due date is drawing near and I’m doing my best impersonation of a handyman and trying to finish the basement. Why finish the basement, says you? Because the soon-to-be nursery is full of stuff that is going in the basement! It will get done, and it will all work out, but, just in case, I’ve been making a deal with the baby: it doesn’t arrive until at least 4 p.m. on September 26, after which all my major commitments are done, and when it is four-years-old, I’ll give it lots of money for candy. If the baby is anything like its mother, I’m safe, but only time will tell and I know it will arrive when it’s ready.
I promise more updates on this in the coming months and on all other significant things in the life of me and RealTime Cancer.
Live life. Love life.
* Editor’s note: The doc that did my second transplant was not the one who told me the above info, but instead he actually gave me a recent study, at the time, which highlighted that roughly 50 per cent of patients having a second transplant were cured (i.e. lived five years post-transplant).