From the Mikisew Cree First First Nation in northern Alberta, David Joseph Tuccaro was born in 1981 in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. He moved around a bit growing up but called Vancouver home. Now using the name “Bionic Dave’, he started DJing in 1997 and has used his love of music to get him through his darkest times.
He says, “On December 23, 2006 at around 10 pm I was taken into Kelowna British Columbia General Hospital and at 2 am on Christmas eve I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.) I was air lifted to Vancouver General Hospital and later that day I had my first hip biopsy – the beginning of a five year odyssey requiring me to fight tooth and nail for my life.”
“I don’t remember much after that point, but what I endured would forever change the way I look at life and different situations. I have received 2 rounds of very intense chemotherapy, 6 rounds of full body radiation, an addiction to pain killers, 12 spinal taps, 8 hip biopsies, an epidural, a bone marrow transplant, a disease called GRAPH vs HOST, and another disease called Av ascular NEC ROSIS. Because of the high amounts of PREDNISONE I am on I have had both hips fully replaced, as well as my shoulder. I’m due to have my other shoulder done as well as my knees, ankles and elbows.
In September, 2011, David met the man who saved Dave’s life by donating the stem cells he needed to survive. In the system of international registry, after two years, donor and recipient information are made available to each other and David managed to locate Christian on Facebook. He subsequently invited him to celebrate his 30th birthday in Las Vegas.
David recalls “ My meeting with Christian Holtmann, from the small German town of Bhunde, was very incredible to say the least. I was so incredibly excited to meet the man that had given me so much that I ran into a restricted area of the airport. The guards didn’t mind though since they saw that I had a sign that said ‘willkommen’ to my bone marrow donor.”
“It was incredible to meet the man who so selflessly gave something from himself to save someone else, but that he saved my life, is just amazing. We really started bonding by talking about what he went through and the process of donating and I talked about how I went through chemo, radiation, spinal taps et cetera.”
Tuccaro, along with author Marala Scott, are sharing his story in the book, Bad to the Bone, which details his experience with the disease, which included an addiction to his prescribed pain medication.
While Tuccaro hopes the book educates people and encourages them to donate bone marrow, he says it’s also helped his own recovery.” What I got in six months of writing this book – letting it all out in just one creative big burst, was the greatest therapy I could have ever gotten.”
Tuccaro Jr. is posing a challenge to his hometown, asking Fort McMurray to contribute the largest number of bone marrow donations in the country. While he wasn’t diagnosed with leukemia until age 25, he says that because the disease widely affects children, it’s all the more important to donate bone marrow.