What the TiCats are to us Part Deux

Let me set the scene.

Its July 2009.

Tanner is 15.

Tammy and I are waiting nervously for a phone call from the Doctor. Tanner has complained about double vision in his left eye. Just to be sure, our family doctor (who sent us first to an optometrist, who then sent us to an opthomoligist, who then sent us to McMaster for an MRI "just to be safe") is promising to call us when he hears news.

The phone rings, and the Oncology Team at McMaster schedules an appointment to talk to us. They don't give medical information over the phone despite my pleas. The receptionist reassures me this is just a formality, and doesnt mean bad news. I want to believe her.

Tanner is diagnosed with a brain tumor. They tell me its in the central part of his brain, pressing against his optic nerve. They tell me they cant tell from the MRI what kind of cancer and they need to biopsy the tumor. They tell me 95% of biopsies in this area of the brain are successful, and I realize this means 5% arent. The Doctor explains they cant treat the tumor if they dont know what it is, and brain tumors are tricky. He needs a piece of it. I sign the papers, and tell the Doctor I don't like his odds. This aint poker. I'm scared shitless.

Four hours in surgery, and the surgery is a success.

I do not need to tell you how long those hours felt, or how the next 4 weeks felt while the results were being analyized. Anyone with an imagination knows how long each second seemed to last.

Its a germinoma tumor. Tanner needs aggressive chemotherapy. Radiation afterwards. Multiple painful spinal taps to insure it hasnt spread along his spine.

Twice Tanners immune sysytem crashes during chemo. He has to be isolated in Macs ICU unit one of those times. I spent the night worried a common cold might kill him. When I finally was allowed into his room fully scrubbed and masked just like the Doctor, (because at that point a common cold could kill him, similar to an advanced HIV patient), one of the first things he asked me was if the Cats won last night.

For the first time in 20 years I forgot the Cats were playing that night. Tanner didn't.

The TiCats aren't just a football team to Tanner.

48 others, before me, have read Alexander's story and no-one has yet to comment.
So, I'll be the first to thank him for sharing it with us and to express a hope that among the first 48 was someone from within the Ti-Cat organization who has already, or will soon, contact Alexander with an offer of something in the way of special support for Tanner to keep his spirits high as he fights his disease. I hope every player gets to read this story and, devoted Ti-Cat Fan to devoted Ti-Cat Fan, I wish Tanner and his family the very best.


What is Tanners current situation? Just asking because the post was based on just over a year ago and lately I've met a few children in similiar circumstances. It's always nice when the team steps up and acknowledges a fan that doesn't have the same opportunities as the rest of us but it's a great great thing when fans themselves come together and make another fans day better. Just sayin.....

No need to answer, after re-reading your original post the answer was there, glad things worked out for the better.

My 17 year old son (Tanner) is walking around in his gold Lumsden jersey. When his girlfriend arrives, he insists she change into one of his TiCats t-shirts. He’s worried she’ll jinx us if she doesn’t. She complies with his request. She states she doesn’t like football. Tanner seems confused by what she’s said, like he doesn’t understand the words. His friends think he’s weird. He opted out of god knows how many parties because he didn’t want to miss this game. Instead of running the streets on a Friday night, exposed to drugs and booze and peer pressures, he’d rather stay home and talk to his Dad about the TiCats. He seems to hang on my every word…

ottawacat mentions that 48 people have read this post, and not commented.

I'm not really surprised. It doesn't mean that people don't care, or aren't moved. They do care. They are moved.

But we, especially the men, have become conditioned to holding in our feelings, to thinking there is something unmanly in showing our emotions. Believe me, as you get older you realize that human emotions and the sharing of those emotions are vital to the health of society.

I have experienced my wife's conquering of breast cancer. I can empathize with this poster. I can only imagine the terror and uncertainty this family experienced.

A vital part of life is the sharing of emotions, both good and bad.

I am thankful that this subject was raised. Good luck to this family.

Reading the comments that have followed my original, I too am no longer surprised. My bad -- not noticing alexander's date of 2009. I read, and wrote, believing that Tanner's diagnosis was made just overt a month ago. Glad to hear that he's doing well and has undoubtedly enjoyed the past 4 Cats' games.

Thank you to all who read my story and were moved. My heart goes out to all those that have faced this terrible disease, and my prayers go out to those who face it still.

Tanners tumor was sucessfully eradicated through chemo and radiation. He has regular MRI's to insure there are no further growths. He did the run for the cure this year and raised over a thousand dollars. My heart nearly burst with pride. A true success story.

I can't say enough about McMaster and their medical staff. They acted with care and concern at every step and feel humbled by what they do every day for so many.

I'm sure many who have read Tanner's story just didn't know what to say. All the best to him and thanks for sharing alexander.

Thanks for sharing that as well as your original post, both very moving.

Well I'm really not intending to steal any of Tanner's "thunder". I am really happy for his full recovery. It makes you glad to be alive when hearing such good news.

Now if I may....

In early July 2009 I was acting weirdly - even for Mike. I can share with you some of the symptoms I experienced. I was late for work without fully understanding or caring why. (Anyone who knows me knows that I am punctual to a fault). I stumbled over my own left foot several times. My whole personality changed. Finally concerned friends and co-workers sent me home from work. I called my wife at her work. She came home and took me to the doctor. After examining me he told my wife to take me to the Hamilton General Hospital emergency if things got worse and he would try to get a specialist to see me in the interim. Sure enough things did get worse on July 8. I was unresponsive to my wife. I agreed with her when she told me to get dressed to take me to the hospital but I didn't move. Finally she had to call 911. The para medics assisted her with dressing me and then took me on a drive down the hill with the siren going. If I was still a kid I probably would have really enjoyed it.

The rest to me, until my first surgery is pretty much a blur. Apparently I was in emergency for a long time before they finally got me a room. I remember the surgeon, Dr Wells, coming to see me with the results of my Cat Scan. He said he wanted to operate as there was a mass in the front right part of my brain. He told me it could be one of 3 things. A malignant tumour, a benign tumour, or an abscess. He said that because of the way it was acting, and because I didn't have a fever he thought it was a malignant tumour. He wouldn't know for sure until he went in.

I recall waking up in the recovery room after the operation with my sister and my wife there. My sister told me "you should be doing handstands, Mike. It was only an abscess", Truthfully I didn't feel like doing handstands at that point, but I sure was relieved. They started me on a powerful intra venous anti biotic immediately. Unfortunately the abscess came back two more times and I had to have two more surgeries to drain it.

Now you might wonder how this has anything to do with the Cats? Well I was (and still am) a Ticat season ticket holder. Due to the one month (until August the 8th) I spent in the hospital, I missed two home games. Luckily we were able to afford a TV and I was able to watch the games on TSN. Not quite the same as being there, but a close facsimile. One of the games was the first I recall in the BYE (Bob Young Era) that was played in the rain at the 'Wynne. So maybe missing the game live wasn't so bad. Nah, yes it was bad.

Every day I wake up and am very grateful for one more day of life. I sent a thank you card to the staff in Ward 7 West for all of their kindness and excellent care they provided me. If any of them should read this, I hope they are proud of the fine work they do. We are very fortunate to live in such a great country. If I had been living south of the 49th I probably would have received equally good care, but depending on my insurance coverage, my house would now likely be fully mortgaged, and things would not be so rosy.

Finally, I hope some of you will look on life with at some of my shared perspective and be happier for it.


Thank you for sharing your story Mike. Thank God you are still here to tell it.

I particularly liked the part when you said a game in the rain is still better than watching on TSN. You're absolutely right, there is an energy at Ivor Wynne that is indescribable. Surronded by 30,000 strangers you feel at home, amongst family.

Each day is a gift, and whats unfortuntate is that often it isn't until we are face to face with our mortality that we start to see a bigger picture and we start to realize that the things that matter most are the little moments we have together. Stolen moments. Before Tanner was sick, I took for granted he would always be there. I won't take those little moments for granted anymore.

Did you know the TiCats made Bob Young a millionaire??? Too bad he started as a billionaire.

When Bob Young bought this team I had never heard of him. I remember I even liked the way his identity was a mystery in the spec for the first few days and how they had built such hype around it. I laughed that after they had revealed his name and it was an even bigger mystery to me. I thought maybe it was going to be Wayne Gretzky. I wanted it to be. I had never heard of this billionaire Bob Young, but then, why would I have? I don't often get invited to the Playboy Mansion for parties, and with two kids and 10 CFL games to attend every year where would I find the time if I did? All I know I was scared the league was gonna fold the team, and if this billionaire Bob Young wanted this lemon of a team that I loved, he wasn't Wayne Gretzky but he'd have to do.

I've learned alot about Bob since. Our Caretaker. Bob Young bought this team because it was his brothers team. He didnt buy it to make money and in fact I firmly believe he knew he would lose money. He made a decision from his heart, because he also learned the hard way that all we have are these moments and soon they will be gone. The money won't matter. Bob has more money than you and I could ever dream of having. His family will want for nothing for generations. In the end I think he knows all that money won't buy back these moments. The highest cost of living is dying, and thats one everybody pays, billionare and pauper alike. Have it spent before you get the bill. There's no time to kill.

Thank you for honouring your brother Bob, and thank you for saving our team. You have more love and honour now than you'll ever have money my friend.

I authored my original post because I was distraught by some of the things I was reading in the media at the time, about how the TiCats are "just a private business, like any other and don't deserve special treatment." I wanted to illustrate that while I agree the TiCats are a private business, I disagree that they are like any other. The TiCats haven given hope to the hopeless. The TiCats have made my family better. They have made me a better father. They have given my kids a way to connect to me, as they only became interested because I was. The TiCats have given me a common ground with my kids that I have used and will continue to use to build a strong foundation. I felt my story should be told. I hope others will share theirs as well.

I authored this post because I wanted to share Tanners story . I felt Tanners story should also be told, and I hope that like Mike, others will continue share their stories with me and give a voice to why they love our Tabbies. Maybe when we have enough voices we will finally be heard.

The TiCats aren't just a football team to us.

Very well said Wilf. I had tears in my eyes reading the posters toucing story. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tanner.

Please keep us up-to-date.