Personal and Professional Experiences
- I was born and raised in Prince Edward Island. I am the middle child, with an older sister and younger brother.
- Our family moved to Ottawa in 1993 when my father transferred to the Ottawa office of Veterans Affairs, where he was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister. It was at this point that I developed testicular cancer. It was found early enough that no treatment was necessary but I had to have the right testicle removed (replaced with a prosthetic). I was told it would be very difficult for me to have children when the time came. I beat those odds and have since fathered a beautiful son and daughter! Isabella is now 10 and Simon is 8.
- Fast forward: March 2010. I went to the emergency department 8 times over a 6 week period where I was continuously sent home with a different medication and no tests being done. During this time period, I lost almost 30lbs, was a jaundice shade of yellow, and constantly bleeding. Dr Batten, now my family doctor (my wife’s and our children’s family doctor at the time) ordered an emergency MRI on my head. I received the MRI that night at 1AM, and was admitted the next morning at 9 as they found a massive brain tumour. I had a very difficult decision to make at this point; surgery A or surgery B. The tumour had grown so aggressively that it grew in the brain quite deep. 22% of the surface of the brain was covered with said tumour as well. Surgery A) remove the surface tumour and try only chemo and radiation on the internal portion, or B) remove the entire tumour in one surgery. Surgery B was more dangerous and would cause great memory loss. Surgery A would likely lead to further tumours continuing to grow back and eventually become inoperable. As our children were 1 & 3 at the time, I chose surgery to “start over” and opted for surgery B. I needed to be here for my family as long as I could. Even if it meant losing my memory and starting a new one. April 26th was the day of my brain surgery, to which I woke up 10 hours later with an awful, but expected headache. 4 days later, The night before I was supposed to go home, I had a stroke (fortunately in hospital!) I was unable to leave for another 5 weeks and this led to 2 years of aggressive physio/speech therapy. Learning to talk and walk again. As Simon was 1 at the time, we grew up together! Isabella who was 3, became like a second mom to me. Very nurturing!
- All of the nerve damage from the brain surgery, 37 rounds of treatment and the stroke led to many normal functions, failing. In 2013 I was the first male in Canada to receive a pacemaker for my bladder. This required a trip to Toronto as there’s only one surgeon in Canada who offers this surgery. The pacemaker is about the size of a cell phone and sits in my lower back with 6 wires running up the spine to the base of my neck. It informs me when it’s time to empty my bladder by shocking me! Yup! Not much fun, but I’ve since learned to accept it and have gotten used to it.
- In total I have had more than 30 surgeries in my 39 years of life. What we believe to be 36 at this time.
- I am currently on long term disability as my memory is very poor and I have to journal and take notes on a daily basis.
- All of what I have battled has led me to become a motivational speaker on behalf of the foundations that have helped save my life on many occasions. I find it very therapeutic to talk to others who are fighting the good fight, or who have loved ones that are. My intent is to help clear the mind of one person, who takes the time to listen to my journey and if the number is greater than one, then that’s awesome!
- My daughter Isabella who is now 10 is also a motivational speaker who speaks at many schools a year on behalf of children who are witnessing a parent or family member who is unwell. She has been speaking at many events a year, since she was 6 and has a speaking engagement this Friday at Ottawa U where she will speak to more than 1500 students and faculty! It’s the greatest form of therapy a parent could ask for!!