zondag 17 september 2017

"Hastings cop holding bone marrow drive in memory of his dad, jazz legend Michael Brecker"

All of a sudden this is so much closer to me than it ever was:


The son of Michael Brecker, Sam Brecker (a police officer) will do a bone marrow drive. People can test their bone marrow with a simple swab of the cheek. If there is a match they will be asked to donate.

Michael Brecker is one of the reasons I play saxophone. Because of his music I felt like I knew him. I met him once when I was in puberty at the North Sea Jazz. I was a huge fan. For me Brecker was like Michael Jackson or Madonna to my class mates.

And then he died in 2007 from a form of leukemia. He needed a stem cell transplant but couldn't find a suitable donor.

I will receive a stem cell transplant in November, from my own bone marrow, which will be harvested in October.

vrijdag 15 september 2017

Round one of the second level

Dear friends,

I am at home right now. Watching the worst movie ever probably 'Ghost in a shell'. I figured while I have the time I might as well watch some movies and catch up. I wasn't going to write. I wanted to share my thoughts when I had something positive. A new reason for all of this. But this movie is just so bad that I wanted to do something worthwhile.

The first time I got lymphoma I used this period of chemo and recovery to go into new directions, to think about what I had been doing and if I wanted to continue on this path.

Last Wednesday I started immunotherapy, and until Saturday I had chemotherapy. Now I am recovering and waiting for my body to get into a good enough shape for the next chemo. In the mean time I have been on the look out for a new reason. But I can't find one. I have to wait until this is all finished and keep an open mind. Even more than before. Because my body might change too much because of the chemo. Or not... I can't tell.

All I know is that I have to deal with this treatment day by day. Deal with the nerve and ear damage that might take place. Deal with the overwhelming nausea, the muscle loss and cramps. Trying to exercise, eat and sleep.

I will try to keep playing the saxophone. But at the same time, I am not sure whether I will still play sax in one year.

To be continued....

All the best,

donderdag 7 september 2017

I cancelled 40 concerts last week: What happened?

Dear friends,

Right now I am in the hospital. The cancer is back. After some really tense weeks I was diagnosed again with lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system. This is relatively favorable. My chances for the first time in 2015 were 90%. For the remaining 10% they are 70%-80% after a relapse.


At the time I am writing this I am in the oncology section of the OLVG West Hospital in Amsterdam West for four days to give me immuno- and chemotherapy. The first time, in 2015, I never thought about being part of the 10% that has a relapse. I saw the cancer as a sort of super flue, with a compulsory sabbatical. I turned the situation around in my head and made it into something positive. A chance to purge myself. And that is what I did. I thought a lot about the stuff I did. I made choices and tried to go on in a different way. The coming year reflected these choices. I had concerts with my good friends Rembrandt Frerichs, The Four Baritones, Ernst Daniel Smid, Remy van Kesteren, Martin Fondse, and much more!
I have the biggest class at the conservatory in Tilburg I have had since I started, with really good musicians from all over the world. I was looking forward to working with them so much. Luckily I found an excellent substitute, Juani Palop.

But during summer holiday I found a bump on my chest. After some tense weeks it turned out to Hodgkin's disease again. Which was relatively good news. The old cancer could also have developed into a less favorably form of for example non-Hodgkin.

Of course it is a big disappointment. I can hardly start to describe what I and my family and friends feel at this time. I will get three times three weeks of chemo- and immunotherapy, of which the first four days I will be hospitalized. Then, if all goes well, in the second half of November I will get a stem cell transplant. They will give me back my own stem cells that they will harvest after the second chemotherapy. If there are no complications I will be done before Christmas. Then recovery. And trying to get back in the game.

I will keep playing the sax during the therapy, like last time. And again I will be on the look out for stuff that I like to play even more. But this time I can't attach a reason to all of this, yet. I will keep you posted.

Thanks and stay safe, Ties