In May 2002 I started having night sweats after any significant physical activity. Quickly, symptoms similar to pneumonia ensued, for which I was given antibiotics and told to take it easy for a while. Aside from these symptoms, I was a healthy 29 year old. After three months of prolonged symptoms, my fiancée, Ceci, and I started to sense that something wasn't right. I was tested for every blood disorder possible and eventually my doctor ordered a biopsy of one of my lymph nodes. On the day of the biopsy, while I was recovering, the doctor went to the waiting room and told Ceci and my parents that he was sure I had some kind of advanced cancer. The next week we transferred all of my records and care to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and I was officially diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma with presentation in my lungs, chest, and multiple lymph nodes.
In January 2003, a week after my official diagnosis, I started eight months of chemotherapy. With our wedding planned for just a few months later in May, we decided to reschedule for November, which was a couple months after my treatment would be complete - or so we thought.
The next eight months were filled with ups and downs: time split between work, time at SCCA, and a few stints in the hospital fighting infections. Throughout it all, I had a great deal of support from everyone around me. My family and I were always impressed by everyone we delt with at SCCA and the University of Washington. After completing the standard eight month treatment, I had a series of CT and PET scans and we got the bad news that the Hodgkin's was not gone. At this point, the doctors recommended that I proceed with a stem cell transplant. With our rescheduled wedding two months away, my family and I made one of the hardest decisions of our lives and decided to wait until after the wedding and honeymoon to start the transplant.
Ceci and I were married surrounded by all of our friends and family; it was a powerful feeling. Following the wedding we headed to Hawaii for a sunny Thanksgiving honeymoon. The day after we got back, I checked into the hospital and started the pre-transplant regimen of radiation and chemotherapy. In February 2004, I received my stem cell transplant, followed by a two week stay in the hospital. I recovered quickly, returned to work after a month, and was playing soccer that summer.
In the years since my transplant I've tried to stay connected with organizations working to improve cancer treatment and patient care, primarily the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the University of Washington Oncology Board. In that time, I've met too many people that have been impacted by cancer in one way or another.
All of us participating in Obliteride will come together in August to tell cancer we're not gonna take it anymore. And here's where I need your help. I've made a big commitment to make a statement against cancer. And I hope you'll make a statement, too. With 100% of every dollar donated going directly to cancer research at Fred Hutch, we can make a direct impact on research to save lives faster. I hope you'll donate as much as you can because you believe in me, what I'm doing and that together, we can defeat cancer. Thank you for your support!