Yes, that’s right! As all of you know, in June of 2003 I was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. On October 21st of 2003 I received a stem cell transplant (aka bone marrow transplant) from my older brother, Mike. Without a doubt, I know that I would not be here today if I had not received a transplant as part of my treatment at that time. The 5-year overall survival rate for AML patients is somewhere around 20%. Even though I relapsed on Christmas Eve of 2007, I still fulfilled that 5 year survival mark. One of the main people I have to thank for that is my brother, Mike. Without him, I would have been included in the other percentile. It just so happened that I wasn’t feeling the greatest that day (Oct 21, 2008) so I came home from work a tad early and did the rest of my day’s work from home on my laptop. I sat outside in my garage, shielding me from the wind, and enjoyed the pleasant fall afternoon from the comfort of a lawn chair. When all of a sudden, I noticed a car pull in that looked a hell of a lot like Mike’s. Wait a second…it is Mike! He parks his car, jumps out, and immediately begins cracking up because he sees me all bundled up in a blanket in my garage working on my laptop. He snapped a picture and immediately uploaded it on the internet.
Shortly thereafter, I finished up what I was working on. Mike had intended on surprising me for the 5 year survival celebration thing, but it didn’t quite work out that way. We jumped in his car and headed out to The Cheesecake Factory for some dinner. Oh and I guessed where he was taking me before we even left my complex. We ate dinner and talked about all kinds of stuff. After dinner, we went to the Mayfair Mall. Mike had another surprise in store. He took me to one of the jewelry stores to have a ring custom made to match the one that I gave him 5 years ago. In 2003, I gave Mike a white gold ring that had “Blood Brothers for LIFE” engraved on it. He wanted to get me the exact same one so I got my finger all sized up and they put in the order. It should be here anytime now. Just this past summer, I gave my sister Lindsey a bracelet with a charm symbolizing her donation of stem cells to me…don’t worry Lindsey, I don’t think I want to wear a matching white gold bracelet anytime in the near future.
So anyways, we finished up there and called it a night. Mike drove back to Madison and dropped me off at my place.
The past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with my health. I’ve had moderate to severe lung infections pretty consistently for the past month or two. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to stay healthy. The main reason for that is that my immune system is total garbage. All of my immunities and resistances have been reset to zero with the stem cell transplant, so now I am prone to getting sick quite easily. It doesn’t take much…not much at all. The same thing happened back in 2003 and into 2004. As much as two years after my first transplant, I was still having pretty considerable issues with my health. I guess I’m hoping that I come around quicker this time…however, that is probably unlikely.
I’ve pretty much decided to stay indoors this year for Halloween and not to do the whole Madison thing. The other night, I sat outside and handed out candy to trick-or-treaters for a few hours. The next day (yesterday) I was all stuffy accompanied by a nasty cough. It probably has something to do with the fact that it was pretty damn cold that night. The temperature seems to drop more and more each day and the wind that evening was absolutely terrible. Which brings me to another thing – snow. It’s coming whether you want it to or not. I went out for lunch yesterday and it was lightly snowing. Pretty soon we’ll be up to our waists in snow drifts and starting up our snow blowers to get our vehicles out of our driveways. Remember to drive safe and buckle up! Every year I hear another sad story about someone getting into some horrific accident due to the driving conditions.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention that Jason’s family just participated in the Namakagon Cancer Walk to raise money and awareness for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Cable, WI. Taken from The County Journal newspaper:
“A team of 11 walkers comprised the Jason Traeder Team. Jason was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma at age 19 and passed away after a long battle with the disease on Aug. 6. The Jason Traeder team wore white sweatshirts with Jason’s picture on the back. His mother, Sandy Traeder of West Allis, explained the team.
“Our friends Steve and Sue Bergner own a condo here at Lakewoods and about a month after Jason’s funeral they asked if they could participate in the walk in Jason’s memory. We decided to join the walk too. Jason’s brother, Kyle, is 18 and he’s doing the whole 18 miles. It’s been good for all of us to be here. It’s something good to come out of something so tragic that happened to our family.” “
Sandy, you and your family have been amazing support. I know Jason is looking down and watching out for all of us now.
Take care everyone and enjoy the last bit of 50+ degree weather we have!