In 2018, at the age of 59, Dave Didier was in great shape. He started doing Tough Mudder endurance events several years ago and had even become a Tough Mudder ambassador. But when he began his training in January of 2018, he noticed a pain in his lower back that he just couldn’t shake. He saw a chiropractor, but during this time his insurance company requested he get a blood test.
“My life insurance agent called and said I was denied. I thought that was odd because I was in the best shape of my life,” Dave shared.
Dave followed up with his primary care doctor in Grafton who confirmed that his protein levels were too high. She referred him to an oncologist who shared the devastating news.
“He said it was multiple myeloma. They did a body scan and could see that the myeloma was eating away at that area of my back. That’s what was causing all my pain,” Dave said.
Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that affects plasma cells. Fortunately for Dave, they saw no signs of the cancer in his organs so his oncologist, Robert Taylor, MD, was optimistic.
“Once he said he could cure me, there was no pity party,” Dave explained. “I was pretty scared, but after that I was like, ‘Game on!’ I was on board for whatever I had to do. I have a lot of life left in me.”
Dave spent the next several months going between Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee and Aurora Medical Center in Grafton for his treatment. He endured five months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. The compassion and expertise he received at both locations is something he won’t soon forget.
“Those nurses at Aurora St. Luke’s were my angels from God,” Dave said. “One of them learned it was my birthday the next day and she showed up with homemade cookies. They were just so caring of everything I needed.”
At the Grafton clinic, Dave felt the same generosity. He took advantage of the many support services and integrative therapies offered free of charge to cancer patients. He enjoyed the massage sessions during some of his treatments and said the physical therapy helped him regain his strength.
In February of 2019, Dave’s oncologist in Grafton, Allan Torkelson, MD, told him they could no longer see the cancer in his body. It was considered in remission. He has continued to celebrate life by doing five (yes, five!) Tough Mudder events in 2019. He now plans to donate some of the proceeds from those events back to the cancer programs at Advocate Aurora Health.
“I have to think more about how my body will respond to things, but this is my new life and I’m grateful. It’s actually a marathon, not a race,” Dave shared.
Charitable giving means more cancer patients can have access to the integrative therapies and support services that helped Dave. If you would like to support the cancer programs or other funds at Advocate Aurora Health, CLICK HERE.