Sunday, September 5, 2010

Transplant birthdays

Monday, September 6, marks two years since I received transplant number two. I can't remember number two with the same clarity as number one. Perhaps that's due to some bizarre been-there-done-that ennui that comes with prolonged treatments. Up until that point, I'd had so many chemotherapy sessions through my CVC and injected intrathecally into my spine. There was a bout with PTLD which brought more chemo and more scans and more treatment. I've lost count of the number of times I had to go to the ER in the middle of the night because of fevers or bone pain. I couldn't tell you the number of bone marrow aspirations and biopsies I've had. Lumbar punctures? I've had more than a few.

There are scars: one on each side of my chest to commemorate the multiple CVCs, one on each bicep to mark the existence of multiple PICC lines, track marks on my arms from the myriad blood draws, a cluster of divots low on my spine from so many lumbar punctures. The backs of my hips hurt when pressed thanks to all of the bone marrow samples and bone fragments I've had removed to be tested for minimal residual disease.

I'm not alone in all of this. I've got friends who are also doing this for a second time or have done it multiple times. We have all heard some permutation of the phrase, "I'm sorry, the leukemia is back." We have all choked back some horrible miasma of grief/anger/rage/disbelief. We have all fought and continue to fight.

My life has been touched by the resilience we all share. Each of us struggles in our own way and yet every day, we resolve to put on our game faces and forge ahead for ourselves or our loved ones or just to spite the son of a bitch that is cancer.

On Monday, I will be two. I will get to do all of the things that I'd thought lost to me that horrible day in July when I was re-admitted to MDA. I will be grateful for the dust bunnies under the couch and the crazy sago palm in the front yard. I will relish the obscene amount of reading that must be done for class. I will tell Chris that I love him. I will be thankful for Dana.

So many people worked so hard to save my life, twice. Dana sacrificed to give me this second chance at life and I will be forever grateful. Chris put his life on hold to nurse me through this. So many people helped us in a plethora of ways and without all of you, we wouldn't have been able to do it.

On Monday, I plan on being as mundane as possible. I will do homework and eat leftovers. I will ignore the army of dust bunnies mounting an attack on all horizontal surfaces. I will allow the cats to bully me into giving them extra treats and I will hold my husband's hand. I will smile and be grateful for the many friends I have made, but not met because of this adventure. I will be thankful for those who are selfless enough to become members of the bone marrow registry. I will be grateful for all of you who continue to read the blog.

Because I want to.

Because I can.

13 comments:

stinkerbelle said...

WOW. First, I can't believe it's been two years since the 2nd transplant and Second, what a beautiful and profound post. Congratulations and Happy Birthday! You are right to savor the simple things. That's what I was just doing myself...watching the sunlight play across a leaf on the tree outside my window and enjoying the turquoise blue sky peeking thru the branches. Life is Beautiful.

Amanda F.

Anonymous said...

Ann, we celebrate your strength and your life!!! So thankful for you. God bless you!!! Virginia

Dianne and David said...

HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY. My daughter celebrated her 2nd birthday July 23rd and we THANK GOD every day for Jonathan(her donor) and Dana. Mundane is awesome..

lisa adams said...

Just shared this on FB so more people can come to know and love you like I do. I am so thankful you are here to share your story and yourself with others. I am a better person for knowing you and Chris.

Nancy said...

Congratulations on Birthday #2!!!! I couldn't be happier for you. Enjoy your special day! Enjoy your special husband. Enjoy your special life! You deserve it all Ann. You are so special to all of us in so many ways! love ya lots! nancy

Susan C said...

Beautifully written, Ann.

So happy for this birthday.

twentysomethinggirl said...

Congrats, Ann. You don't look a day over 18 months. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Ann!
Love, Wen Ü

Jim said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANN! Love, Jim and Dori

Lee McGuire said...

TWO YEARS!? No way. You and Chris remain some of the coolest, most rock-solid-true people I've ever met. Keep up the blog and we'll talk again at year five!

Ronni Gordon said...

Beautiful post.

Happy birthday. Behave yourself: Watch out for the terrible twos.

au soleil levant said...

Happy Birthday and Congratulations! Wonderful and encouraging to see you being so normal :)

PJ said...

Ann, congratulations on this milestone and many more. You know what it's all about. Go forward and try not to look back. Gigantic hug.