When Michael Kosterman was diagnosed with cancer, he and his wife, Deidra, were in the midst of an adventurous period in their lives. They had recently run a Bed and Breakfast in Revelstoke, tried gold mining, and even taught English in Mexico for six months. Tired of the rainy weather in British Columbia, they moved Duchess, Alberta, closer to Deidra's twin brother. However, Michael was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia just a few weeks after moving.
Michael had noticed something worrisome with his teeth and mouth a couple of weeks after their move to Alberta. After consulting multiple Dentists, he was met with no answers. Soon after, a spell of exhaustion hit Michael, and he could not get out of bed one morning. Out of worry, his wife, Deidra, called the ambulance, and Michael was rushed to the Brooks hospital. There, a blood test revealed he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
“Since then, I have talked to a few dentists and said, ‘if someone ever comes in and you can’t figure it out, please tell them to get a blood test.'”
Due to the severity of his case, Michael was advised to stay at Foothills Hospital in Calgary for the duration of his seven-month treatment. Being away from his wife and facing a long seven months of treatment, Michael turned to music to ground himself.
He began re-writing a song of his called “Always Keep On Fighting.” Years prior, he originally started writing this song to help the actor, Jared Padalecki, with his work in spreading awareness on mental health. However, the project didn’t go through, so Michael saw this cancer experience as an opportunity to revive and re-write it.
Michael worked on this song to cope with his diagnosis and create something beautiful during a difficult time – all from his hospital room. He did everything from writing the lyrics, singing, playing the guitars, mixing in other instruments electronically and remastering the audio. Everything except for the beautiful background vocals that his wife sang. Michael and Deidra love to create and perform music together, often doing this through their own band called The Who Knew Band.
Despite the challenges he faced, Michael had “many meaningful moments” throughout his cancer journey. One took place when a nurse came to check on him.
“I was playing “Wanted Dead or Alive” on the guitar. And the nurse goes, ‘oh my god, you can play the guitar? You can play Bon Jovi?’ She was a very young nurse, so I was surprised she knew the song. She came in and sang with me. It was such a nice moment. A couple of other nurses came to the door and were surprised too because, boy she could sing!” Michael chuckles.
As many know, cancer brings forth many mental, physical, emotional and even financial challenges. Unfortunately, the cost of Michael’s treatments began to pile up. This added an immense amount of stress to both Michael and Deidra’s situation. So, they turned to the Patient Financial Assistance Program we offer.
“The difference that [donors] make is life-saving. The money that we got from the Patient Financial Assistance Program meant that we could eat. It meant that Deidra could travel to visit me in the hospital. It made all of the difference. So, I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their donations. Once we are back on our feet, we definitely want to be contributors as well.”
Since his treatments, Michael’s physical strength has been slowly returning. Even his vocal cords were impacted by the treatments. However, he continues to work on regaining his strength, playing music and living in gratitude for those that supported him through his journey.
Thanks to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre’s and Foothills Hospital’s incredible efforts, Michael is able to create more moments with his loved ones. Above all, though, Michael mentioned the exceptional care provided by his Oncologist, Dr. Michelle Geddes.
The day before we sat down with Michael Kosterman to talk about his story, he received news that his blood work was looking good. Michael explained, “She is amazing. I can’t thank her enough. I saw her yesterday, and I can say that she has saved my life.”
Overall, Michael’s story highlights the power of focusing on your passions during your darkest hours. The song he created, “Always Keep On Fighting,” was a beacon to look toward during his treatments. By turning to music and leaning into the resources available to him, Michael overcame his biggest challenge. His story is a reminder that even in difficult times, you can create moments of beauty and hope.