Time to meet another "neighbour" in our online community. This month I'm pleased to introduce you to Terry - better known on our community as Windancer. Here's a bit about him, in his own words, starting with his mantra:
This has been my mantra for life for many years now. It is how I live my life, I have a framed photo on my wall (see photo above) that I wake up to every day and it’s one of the first things I see. That’s me in the yellow hat in the lower left corner. I also have a fridge magnet with that saying on it, which unfortunately I also see far too often, but that is another story for another time.
My name is Terry,I am a 3 time survivor of this insidious disease. I was first diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma (Stage 4) and in 2002, It has been a difficult 12 years of my life, all the highs and lows that I have experienced during my journey. I am definitely stronger for all that I have experienced. I know we all have cancer stories to tell, here is a shortened version of mine.
It was a beautiful Labour Day afternoon and I was competing in the Provincial Windsurfing Championships at Regina Beach when a gust of wind blew me off my board and ruptured my spleen. In a fraction of a second my life changed drastically, I now tell people that the sport that I love more than anything else probably almost killed me and saved my life at the same instant. I went to the hospital where I received the awful news that I had Stage 4 cancer. To make a long story shorter I had an autologous (my own cells) Stem Cell Transplant in Saskatoon RUH in May 2003.
In 2006 I developed testicular cancer for which I had successful surgery for and I seemed healthy. In the spring of 2008 I was 5 years out and I figured that I was done with cancer. I was severely wrong, at this time I was informed that my cancer had returned stronger than ever and I would need another SCT, this time an allogeneic one (donor cells). I flew to Montreal (where my brother and sister in law lived) and had the transplant done there, eventually finding a compatible donor in Texas.
Everything seemed to go well, I left for Montreal in August of 2008 and returned home to Regina in early January 2009 seemingly okay. In late February, I was readmitted to Saskatoon RUH where I quickly lost a100 lbs and became very sick, After 3 weeks my brother came to Saskatoon where they told him to take me home to die because they figured I had a week or two to live. When the 2 weeks had passed and I was still alive, things changed for me, I looked at that fridge magnet and decided I was not ever going to give up. For the next 3 months I was under Palliative care, I could not walk initially, progressed to a wheelchair, a walker, a cane to nothing.
Today you would never know I had been sick, I gained back the 100 pounds although I am like everyone else I would like to lose 20 of it. I lead a very active and fulfilling lifestyle. I know my story is not indicative of everyone so please keep that in mind.
I have been involved as a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society's peer support program for nearly 4 years now. Because of all the hardships that I went through, I felt I really wanted to give back to the cancer community, I know how scared and alone I felt back in 2002 and I certainly didn’t want someone else to feel that way today. In the past 4 years I have talked to people all across Canada mainly about Mantle Cell Lymphoma and Stem Cell Transplants. In a very ironic twist of fate last year I talked to someone in PEI, who was seeing the same doctor the very next day in Halifax that oversaw my first SCT in Saskatoon.
I feel I am very resilient and patient, one of my greatest achievements is overcoming this insidious disease, so far at least. If there is one small nugget of knowledge I can offer to someone, it would be know your disease, become aware of all your options, I know cancer can be scary but do not let it consume your life because it will just drag you down. It may sound somewhat odd but in a small way I owe my life to my dogs, when I was first sick Hercules and Haley depended on me, they provided me with companionship and forced me to get some exercise by taking them for a mile long walk every day. Unfortunately I lost both of them a couple of years ago but I now have Samson to take care of.
I think that a sense of humour both in me and my caregivers was very important in this ordeal. It has allowed me to go back and do some of the things that make me the most happiest like windsurfing, although when I was sick my balance was compromised so I kayak a lot more today. I visited the Johnstone Strait (off of Vancouver Island) and kayaked with the Orcas for 6 days in 2010 and last November I went on a 11 day 120 mile paddle in Baja, Mexico.
There are still many things I want to do still, I really want to visit Machu Pichu in Peru. It truly amazes me that a city could be built at an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet that was not discovered until the beginning of the 20th Century. I am totally fascinated with the Mayan, Aztec and Inca people, they had so much knowledge. I plan on taking a 2 week cruise on the rivers in Europe from Amsterdam to Budapest next year.
If you think I could be a benefit to you please get a hold of me, I can listen very well.