The Staff (akA The Cogs of the Machine)

Celebrating my first transplant birthday. Let me tell you, I was feeling "festive"!
 

Gavin Robertson, founder

I was first diagnosed at 24 years old, fresh out of college. What doctors thought was chronic tonsillitis turned out to be non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had exhibited symptoms such as night sweats, extreme weight fluctuations of 20+/- pounds in 30-day windows, and a tonsil that was so big it earned its own name (Frank) among my social circle. Two surgeries, three biopsies, and nine months of experimental chemotherapy later, I had a new lease on life! I was flat broke from medical bills and chose to celebrate life by my newly adopted motto: "You only live life once." This would entail putting myself first, burning bridges, and spending every penny I earned on "living." I pushed away my girlfriend of seven years, lost friends, and barely kept myself afloat financially, thanks to medical debt. I was alive—not proud of how I was behaving—but alive!

Almost one year later to the day  of my original diagnosis I noticed a lump in my right arm, exactly where I had previously had a tumor. A quick biopsy and one surgery later, I geared up for another six months of chemotherapy. I was a little wiser with my third lease on life and not quite as selfish. I strengthened my relationships and was still broke, so I didn't have much to lose on that front. At this point, I had reached the maximum dosage I could take of certain chemotherapies, but thankfully I was in remission and no longer needed treatment. My doctor told me as I left my last appointment, "You need time for treatments to advance because a relapse in the next two years would be bad news." In other words, I wouldn't be able to take any more of the chemotherapy presently available.

The following five-and-a-half years were incredible! I was "healthy," I met the woman who became my wife, I had a successful career in commercial real estate, and I was out of medical debt and actually able to save and invest money for the first time in my adult life. On my five-year anniversary of being cancer-free, I applied for life insurance only to be denied indefinitely due to my cancer relapses and the experimental drugs that had saved my life. I was 31 and had plenty of time to save money and apply later for life insurance—no worries, right? Five months later, I discovered some bumps in my neck and along my jawline. I immediately went to my oncologist. The doctor walked in, felt my neck, and said I was going immediately into surgery. I woke up the next day with my wife, Carrie, next to me, and the look on her face told me the news wasn't good. Wait a minute—I had hit the golden five-year mark, Carrie was six months pregnant with our first child, and we were about to build a new house in Idaho. How could this happen?

After several opinions, my history of cancer and the fact that this was a third relapse dictated that the best course of treatment would be a stem cell transplant. They threw the book at me: four times the normal dosage of RICE chemotherapy regiment for five months, Bexxar, isolation, 30 days in the hospital, and several months of side effects and recovery. My wife had to financially provide for our family, and manage a worn-out, sick husband when she should be enjoying the bliss of her third trimester. Three days after my daughter was born, I left for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to begin the transplant process. My wife, our newborn daughter, our dog, and my mother-in-law followed a couple of weeks later for what would be four months of living in a hotel. After getting out of isolation for 15 days, doped up on morphine and three days away from getting my transplant, I told Carrie: "If I relapse again, I can't do this over. I won't do another transplant. I don't have the will to live and experience the pain again." Carrie left the hospital to take care of our three-month-old daughter knowing her husband had been broken by cancer. That was the only day cancer won.

After returning home and taking a couple of months for my cognitive levels to return to normal, I went back to work nine months after starting treatment. When we arrived in Seattle, I had $120,000 in my savings account. When we arrived back in Boise five months later, I had $2,000 to my name after using all of my retirement to cover medical costs. Cancer had financially liquidated me for a third time.

Going back to "normal" life was difficult. I struggled to communicate with my business partner, a person who was also one of my best friends. Work was no longer fulfilling. My thoughts were constantly distracted with the ideas of scarcity of time and measuring value in every moment of the day. The concept of money had become sickening to me—no matter how hard I worked, cancer always spent what I had. I reached out for help and was sent to social workers and psychologist/psychiatrists who told me to reduce stress and offered me more pills to help me do so. The last thing I wanted to do was take more pills! They suggested reading self-help books and looking in my past to see what was causing this disconnect to "normal" life. I was more interested in looking toward the future. I knew why I couldn't function at work: coming out of my third relapse, I had developed a new set of values that didn't apply to my previous life. After three years of trying to figure out how to apply these new values, I hired a coach. Over the next two years, that coaching helped me to identify my new values and begin applying them at work and in life. My business partner and I began talking and I was gaining success at work. Daily life became fulfilling again! In fact, I began to seek ways to create more fulfillment versus accepting what any given day had to offer.

In 2012 the idea of Cancer Cooperative came to me after I applied for life insurance and was denied for the 17th time. Six years out from my transplant and I was still negotiating medical bills. I had no financial security to offer my family in the event of an accident or a fourth relapse of cancer.

In speaking with others who have had cancer, I found out that too many of us are in the same situation: broke due to the high cost of cancer and the inability to get insured. I decided to create a solution to problems that have plagued the cancer community for too long, and Cancer Cooperative was born! My hope is that through our coaching services and efforts to create alternatives to traditional life insurance, the many people affected by cancer will find peace of mind for themselves and for their families.

Contact me!

gavin@cancercooperative.org

@gprobertson


Mick Carbo,jpg
 

MICK CARBO, EXECUTIVE COACH

If there is one word that best describes Mick, it is passionate. His love for his family, business and life in general is inspiring. This is what makes him a powerful coach and leader.

Mick loves to coach people around creating results they would normally regard as impossible. His ideal clients are up to big things in their lives. They desire to reinvent themselves, their careers or their businesses. Mick locks arms with his clients with the intention to co-generate their dream life.

As an entrepreneur who has owned and operated several successful businesses over the years, Mick brings his dynamic professional experience to the table with his coaching clients. Mick is especially skilled in the area of building, managing and coaching high performance teams in business. Developing leaders is his specialty.

Mick has been married to his wife, Tara, for fourteen years. They are best friends, business partners and are raising three amazing children together. Their commitment to each other through thick and thin has created a timeless bond and an insightful adventure.

Dedicated to his own personal development, Mick is always learning something new to increase his awareness and perspective. He zealously reads books, attends seminars and gets training from some of the world's top leaders.

Some call Mick "the obstacle crusher" because of the hardships and circumstances he has overcome. He has gone from financial independence, to losing it all winding up in debt, to debt free and successful again.

With his story, training, business and life experiences, Mick empowers his clients to reach inside and bring out their inner champion.

Contact Mick