My husband was an extraordinary man who touched many lives during his 32 years. It is my hope that sharing his story and carrying out his wishes to help others will make a difference in the fight against melanoma.
David was first diagnosed with melanoma when he was 29 years old. Following his diagnosis, he underwent a year of treatment which was followed by two years of remission. During this time of remisssion, David lived each day to the fullest. It was almost as though he knew his time here would be shorter than others as he did more living in his short life than many people do in a life-span of 80 years.
During this time, David became a father – a moment he described as “the time he felt most alive in his entire life” . He achieved incredible career success for his young age and was thrilled to be up for partner at the largest accounting firm in Canada at the age of 31.
One week after celebrating our son’s first birthday, David went for a routine ct-scan and was given the news that the disease had reappeared, this time in his lungs. David was determined to conquer the beast a second time and spent hours, researching treatment options and conferring with melanoma experts all over the world. Unfortunately the research showed very limited treatment options and very discouraging statistics.
David decided to travel to the United States to undergo a treatment called Interleukin in which he was hospitalized during week long treatments that left him extremely ill. David battled through with his usual dignity and perseverance, all the while maintaining his sense of humour and charm. I clearly remember the nurses stopping to hang out in his room at night when it was quiet, because anyone who encountered David became immediately drawn in by his warmth and charm.
David persevered through the treatments working in between weeks at the hospital. I will always remember the day he found out he made partner. He had to take the call in the bathroom of his hospital room. Despite everything, he came out beaming. It was his indomitable spirit that convinced everyone who knew him that despite the odds, David would beat the cancer that was slowly overtaking his body. David had convinced everyone that knew him that he was invincible and this was just another challenge to overcome. Despite all of his efforts, the melanoma continued to spread. David was scheduled for a brain scan on September 21 the day of his thirty second birthday, a day we hoped would bring us luck. Unfortunately, the results of that scan revealed that the melanoma had spread to his brain.
David never returned to the office where he had achieved so much professional success. He was told he was not allowed to drive and was put on medication to reduce the risk of seizures. Even without the things that were so important to him, David refused to give up. He strongly felt that surgery to remove the biggest tumor would give him the best chance of survival and convinced his doctors to perform this brain surgery, even when they felt he was fighting a losing battle. He awoke from his brain surgery and joked with the nurses within minutes of gaining consciousness and was determined to walk so he could recover at home. He underwent radiation treatments to treat the remaining brain tumors and started to lose his hair. I remember shaving his head and joking that at least his would grow back unlike many of his friends who were plagued with receding hairlines.
David recovered from the neurosurgery and was then admitted to the hospital once again with stomach problems.
The melanoma had spread again and he underwent surgery one more time. One morning, getting out of bed in the hospital, David fell. Soon after he was unable to feel his legs. Another ct-scan revealed another tumor in his spinal column and further progression of the melanoma to his brain and other organs. David never walked again. The doctors told us there was nothing more they could do for him.
We decided to bring him home where he could be surrounded by his family and friends. He continued to fight, not wanting to leave us because he knew how sad we would be without him. During that time, I was fortunate to be able to talk with my husband and understand his hopes and dreams for a future that he now knew he would not be physically part of. He felt at peace with his life and the way that he lived it. He told me that he would not have changed a thing. During those last few weeks, we discussed the reason and meaning for us being affected by this terrible disease and David believed it was our duty to use his story to help others.
On December 18th, 2005, my husband looked at me with the beautiful blue eyes that had greeted me every morning for the past 5 years and filled me with warmth and love every single day and told me quietly that he had to go. Surrounded by the family that he was the core of, David took his last breaths and finally gave up his long fight. But David’s story does not end here. His smile, his ambition, his strength, integrity and desire to help others continues to live on in those who knew and loved him. His name and his story will help make a difference in the fight against melanoma. His legacy will live on.