Thursday, September 24, 2020

Dave Sontag: Tying shoes becomes personal triumph – News – Monroe News – Monroe, Michigan

Transplant News Sharing // News from Source www.monroenews.com

“Every day matters. Every day is a blessing. Every day is a good day,” Dave says in his latest column.

I had accomplished the task thousands of times since I first learned on a hay bale on my uncle’s farm.

However, this time it was different.

This time, when finished, I felt a rush of adrenaline flowing through my veins.

Tying my shoes meant something elevated to another scale just a couple of weeks ago.

They were coaching shoes – dirty, worn but thirsty for use.

Once I finished the second shoe, I realized that I had overcome a monumental hurdle that I was not sure I would ever climb. After finishing the tying of my black Nike coaching shoes, I headed to my first hitting lesson in over two years. Braden and Drew were the first players to receive lessons since May 15, 2018.

That was the day fellow coach Joe Welton dragged me off of the field at Saline High School as I was about to fall to the ground on a steamy, humid day.

I saw white.

I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t hit outfield fungos without stopping to catch some wind.

Joe took me on the Gator to meet my wife Michelle, who rushed me to the emergency room at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. My life would take a tumultuous turn and the battle to live was on. For over 27 months, I would wake up and thank God that I was still able to breathe.

As far as I was concerned, every new day was a good day.

Since that May 15, 2018, day, I have gained a unique appreciation for the gift of health.

Chemotherapy, radiation, injections, infusions, coronavirus, hospital rooms and experimental procedures continuously stared at me. I viewed life’s steps as a challenge, as a process and as a grind.

Dying was not an option. I still had more to give.

As a dedicated husband, educator, father, grandfather and friend, I had more to offer. I prayed that God would see it that way, too.

Today, August 21, 2020, marks the one-year anniversary of my last bone marrow transplant.

It was 365 days ago today that I received my third major treatment to rid my system of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

On that sunny summer day on the Karmanos Cancer Center’s 10th floor, the transfusion slowly dripped in me as I awaited my fate.

Two other times, once at Karmanos and once at Seattle’s Cancer Care Alliance, I swung and missed on attempts to eradicate the leukemia.

But a year ago, the bone marrow transplant from a young German guy has proven to be successful. Tenuous at times, but overall, the transplant has refreshed my life. The two-strike approach to live has forced me to choke up and shorten up in a more conservative manner.

Every day matters. Every day is a blessing. Every day is a good day.

Because I would miss too many names, I cannot begin to thank everyone who has impacted this grind.

From the Jefferson “He’s my Bear” crusade to the Saline “Team Tag” mantra, the outpouring of support for this arduous ascension has been appreciated and humbling.

Family members, friends, fellow basketball officiating colleagues, former students and players, fellow coaches and educators, nurses, doctors and even many of whom I have never met. All of these people have fueled an inner drive to overcome this dreaded disease. Thank you for encouraging me to crawl back from such a deficit.

Michelle has been an absolute stabilizing rock throughout this journey. Without one complaint, she has been by my side – driving me to appointments, sleeping in the hospital, making meals even when I could not swallow and offering a hand to squeeze when I needed a little extra to soften the pain. I’m a lucky guy.

Every day matters. Every day is a blessing. Every day is a good day.

Thinking back to tying those coaching shoes a couple of weeks ago, I certainly understand the significance of such an insignificant act. Even when living seemed fleeting, I never lost hope.

There are no little things in life.

Dave Sontag is a longtime basketball official and former baseball coach, counselor and journalism teacher at Jefferson High School. He occasionally writes for The Monroe News.

Transplant News Sharing // “Bone Marrow Transplants” – Google News from Source www.monroenews.com

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