Courtesy Castles & Chemo

Instead of my usual Writer Report, I’ve been asked to say a few words about the non-profit organization known as Castles & Chemo. After looking into this little initiative, I agreed wholeheartedly – they’re a great cause that could use all the support they can get.

Dedicated to raising money to fight cancer through research and support efforts, Castles & Chemo uses tabletop role-playing games to achieve its goals. They publish game supplements, and organize and run fundraising events around the world. The organization is the brainchild of John J. Gillick, who I spoke to about his condition about how he came to found this ambitious endeavor.

My recovery from Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia was relatively quick, though I had a number of issues that arose. Resulting from an infection surrounding my port, I was put into the ICU 5 times (I jokingly say that I died 5 times as part of my treatment, as the first one had a doctor look at me, dumbfounded that I was still breathing with extremely low blood pressure).

My last ICU stint, coincidentally, was for a staph infection, almost exactly at the same time that famed artist Tim Hildebrant died of one.
Mostly, though, my treatment was straightforward, with my last form of chemotherapy being taken, orally, in April of 2009.

I still hesitate to call myself “cured” though. While the physical treatment has ended, I don’t feel as healthy as I did beforehand, and there are still some emotional issues I feel need to be addressed. During my treatment, I had discovered that my first military supervisor, Peter Anderson, contracted and died of the same cancer that I had, and I don’t think I ever really came to terms with that.

Overall, though, I’d say I’ve done really well, considering how it could’ve gone.

Going through cancer is not fun. Nurses hovering over you constantly. The looming threat of infection. The nausea. The hair loss. One of the things that helped me get through it all was my weekly D&D game. For that 6 hours around the table, I could stop being John, cancer patient, and become Alton, halfling rogue, putting all of those concerns behind me.

You can learn more about John’s struggle and success, and how you can help, by visiting Castles & Chemo on Facebook. You can also contribute to their Indiegogo campaign, which ends today.