Grabbing tomorrow with both hands

Grabbing tomorrow with both hands

Mike Losak of Hamilton was accustomed to an active lifestyle. In addition to running his own business, playing hockey and coaching soccer, he loved to spend time with his family. Then a major illness in early 2011 sent his life in an unexpected direction.

“Large bumps were developing on my neck,” Losak recalls. “After a morning soccer practice, I visited the Emergency Room at a local hospital in Hamilton. I was shocked and terrified when an MRI and a blood smear indicated acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a dangerously aggressive form of cancer.”

“I remember holding my little girl’s hand as she cried, wanting to tell her I would be okay, but I couldn’t speak because I had tubes in my mouth.

Losak was transferred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, where he underwent chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Parveen Wasi.

“They had to stop chemotherapy for several weeks at one point to treat me when I suffered a major infection,” he recalls. “I remember holding my little girl’s hand as she cried, wanting to tell her I would be okay, but I couldn’t speak because I had tubes in my mouth. That was probably the hardest moment of my experience.”

Chemotherapy resumed after Losak recovered. By April 2013, his cancer was in remission.

“Then I started feeling ill again in July 2013, so I came in for a bone marrow test. The cancer had come back. I was put on an experimental drug used to treat patients who do not respond well to traditional chemotherapy, and luckily that put me into remission again.”

It was decided that he should undergo a stem cell transplant. Luckily the search for a matching stem cell donor was short, as his sister proved to be a match.

“Now that I have a brighter tomorrow, I appreciate all of the important things in life with my beautiful wife, my wonderful daughters and our amazing dog.”

“I can’t say enough good things about the doctors, nurses and staff at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre,” says Losak. “They genuinely care about their patients.”

Three years after the stem cell transplant, he visits the gym regularly to strengthen his legs, as is eager to resume playing hockey. Losak is filled with excitement and determination as he looks toward the future. He is grabbing onto tomorrow with both hands and holding tight.

“Now that I have a brighter tomorrow, I appreciate all of the important things in life with my beautiful wife, my wonderful daughters and our amazing dog.”

Time is of the essence. Every day more adults with blood cancers need a life-saving stem cell transplant. With your financial support, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre will be able to provide 50 per cent more patients with stem cell transplants. You can help patients like Mike have a tomorrow by donating today at hamiltonhealth.ca/stems.