It was the summer of 1996 when I first visited the Princess Margaret Hospital to discuss a life saving Bone Marrow Transplant with Dr. Jeff Lipton. Two year previously I had been diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia and it took over 2 years to find a suitable donor. While the life saving therapies in my community hospital were excellent as I awaited a call from PMH about a match, the care and expertise I encountered there when I got that all important call, was second to none. Dr. Lipton was open and honest and never tried to hide the pitfalls that could occur, nor that at the time, I had a 50/50 chance of making it through. Regardless. I knew I was in such capable hands that I truly never doubted everything possible would be done to give me a second chance at life.
I received my unrelated donor transplant on March 27th 1997 and on Good Friday, 2 weeks later, was told that I was grafting with my new bone marrow. What a joyful day, even though I still knew the road was long. Those first 6 months following were indeed challenging, but any struggles and setbacks that occurred were promptly acted upon and kindly reassurances were given that they were in control. As I said before, I never doubted that.
I was assigned 3 wonderful Nurses while I was in hospital, Sasha, Beverley and Ruth. I shall never forget their care, dedication and kindness. Despite difficult days, we had many laughs and like everyone else they were instrumental to my recovery and discharge home. I became an outpatient 8 weeks following transplantation and 8 months later, returned to work. In March 2021 I celebrated 24 years post transplant. I have enjoyed a wonderful quality of life since thanks to all involved and I could not be more grateful. I also feel privileged!
I would be most remiss if I did not mention my wonderful Mother who came from the UK and stayed to care for me for almost 2 years. She was a quiet guiding light all the way through; without her unwavering support I would not have managed my daily positivity nearly as well.
And of course, without my selfless, thoughtful and undeterred donor in the United States, none of this could ever have been possible. I continue to pray for more people like her who gave because someone else needed help.
Lastly, my hopes for conquering cancer in the future is that everyone will continue to support the foundation in their search for new discoveries and treatments. The work that happens here is so persistent and so necessary to be able to move forward in giving new hope to patients and families. I wish the dreaded ā€œCā€ word will no longer hold the fear it still does and like many other diseases have now become, will be completely curable and non life threatening.
Thank you PMH for my second chance and for continuing to care enough to monitor me all these years later. Jeffrey Lipton is one of a kind. As was the late and great Dr. Hans Messner.