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.