Sunday, August 9, 2009

The TPT Charity for Bad Beat on Cancer

I make no secret about how cancer has touched my life. My wife Traci was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, caught at stage 4 just over 6 years ago. The softball sized tumor had settled neatly near her lungs, and was making it difficult to breathe.

The early detection of the cancer allowed for her doctors to treat the tumor aggressively. They attacked it with chemo that placed her within inches of death, obliterating her immune system, and making her susceptible to practically everything. But she survived. The tumor shrunk to virtually nothing, and a bone marrow transplant removed all the cancer in her bone marrow, to where she now lives cancer free. This happened about 6 1/2 years ago.

However, the bone marrow transplant did not go without complication, because there was not a perfect match for Traci. After a search through the bone marrow registry, doctors were able to get as close as match as possible (a 5 out of a possible 6, and a further check would reveal an 11 out of a possible 12 - as close as you could get). Because it wasn't a prefect match there were some side affects that she continues to struggle today. Traci is currently afflicted with a condition called Graph vs. Host disease. In Traci's case, her skin never really fully accepted the new bone marrow from her donor, and even today, her body fights this new marrow by attacking her own skin. It has caused a great number of issues with her skin including loss of elasticity of her skin. Subsequently, Traci has has lost of motor function in her right arm at the elbow joint, and both of her legs at the knee and ankle. This has rendered her incapable of walking within the last year.

Traci's case of GVH had grown even more severe as her body continued to attack her skin to such a degree that the skin began to tear and opens up. In her legs, her top skin has been wounded so deeply, that most of the skin below her knees eroded, leaving behind an open wound. These wounds on her legs are dressed by her physicians and changed weekly under conscious sedation, and are the main source of her pain. It is a constant reminder of the cancer that once was.

We do still hold onto the hope that healing will eventually take place, and that the worst of it is all behind us. Over the last year, while it has been a consistent battle, there have been improvements and things to rejoice over. Traci's body has showed the ability to regenerate new skin over her sores, which means that her body isn't damaged beyond repair by the GVH. But the healing process is painfully slow, and we don't know when it will be complete. But we hope it will, and we hope for it soon.

Much of Traci's existence today can be attributed to the early detection of her disease. Cancer is different for everyone, and every case of cancer has a different tale to tell. Ours is one of victory. I am so blessed to have Traci be a part of my life. To have her beside me is a great honor. She has a spirit of life and appreciation for all the little things that exudes happiness and joy that is unparalleled. It's infectious.

Mixing my passion for poker and my detest for Cancer, the members of our homegame (Team7Deuce) have partnered with the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and taken the 1% Pledge to Put a Bad Beat on Cancer ( This charity works diligently in the early detection of cancer, and preventing cancer from becoming a life threatening disease.

I am proud to have worked with the Twitter Poker Tour in putting together the TPT Charity for BBoC, in which fellow poker players can play poker together and raise money for this great charity. The tournament is today, August 9th at 6:15 EST/3:15 PST, and will be held on Full Tilt Poker. The buy in is only $10 with half of the proceeds going to put a Bad Beat on Cancer. The tournament ID# is 99488653 and the password is TPTFORBBOC. Professional Poker Players Andy Bloch, Rafe Furst, and a freind of Pablosplace; Lee Childs have all joined the tournament. You can test your poker skills by playing against some of the best poker players in the game, and in doing so, give money back to this great charity.

On behalf of my family, my friends, and everyone whose life is touched by this brutal disease, I want to thank you in advance for participating in this tournament, and helping us fight cancer. Through your charity, I hope that others might be able to experience the joy of life that winning the battle against cancer can bring.

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