Saturday, July 23, 2016

YOU have Cancer

We all have moments that define us. It’s a time in our lives when you have to face the fear of the unknown. On Monday February 15th of this year it hit me like a brick wall, when I learned I'd been diagnosed with Leukemia. I’ll never forget that scene, sitting in the emergency room of the Ottawa General. I had spent all afternoon at the Civic to try and figure out why I was having 2 hour nosebleeds, terrible migraines and bruising on my hands. Late in the evening I was about to go home and wait for the hospital to call me with the results the next day and just as I’m putting on my coat, a doctor runs in with a look that I’ll never forget and says, “He’s been transferred to the General”. I had no idea how serious it was and the Senators doctor Don Chow (who came by to see me) took me home to get an overnight bag and off we went to the General. The next part of the story is foggy but clear at the same time. I was sitting on the examination table, the hematologist was on my left and said “Your blood levels are extremely low and.....” at that point I knew something was wrong. She paused and said “You have Leukemia..” and said it’s curable but we’re going to have to admit you for at least a month. It’s amazing what goes through your mind when something like this happens, as the first thing that jumped into my head was that I had to emcee a charity event with my MAJIC 100 work wife Angie Poirier on the Friday night which was just 5 days away. Don Chow looked at me and said, “Well Stu, you’re going to beat this and become a Cancer survivor!”. We called my wife and I had the doctor give her the news. As expected, it hit her hard and I asked her if it was ok to share the news on Facebook. I needed an outlet, somewhere to get comfort and support so I pulled out the phone, shot a short ninety second video and posted it. Was admitted that night, met Sarah who was my nurse and she walked me through everything and was the comforting soul that I needed. It was just after 11pm and they started giving me blood transfusions right away. I lied in my bed awake until 3am and wondered “why me? What did I do to deserve this?”. The following morning, I woke up, looked in the mirror and vowed to beat it and to try and do something to raise some money for the hospital at the same time. The next few weeks I went through chemo, losing my hair and posted on social media everyday and took everyone on the journey. The doctors met with us a few weeks later and said that while I’ll be able to get into remission, a bone marrow transplant was necessary for long term survival. As I write this, I’m 8 weeks into a new immune system thanks to a generous donor who I hope to meet one day and doing my best to be a boring patient for my doctors. You don’t go through a journey like this without caring nurses who’ve been my sounding board on many days, doctors who just want to see you get better or an amazing wife and kids who’ve had to adjust around me and my new world. I’m forever grateful! #StuStrong