I’ll blame my lack of posts on my new obsession with the show Parenthood, my newfound freedom of having normal blood counts and more importantly with the impending appointment of finding out if I’m (drumroll) cancer free, I just could not seem to focus and write.
Well, yesterday was the day. I got a mani/pedi in the morning trying to calm down since my appointment is at 3:30 and that is a long time for the anticipation to build all day! Once I got to the office, my heart rate was so high the Medical Assistant had to take it twice because it was not okay. Truth be told, the grande iced coffee from Starbucks did not help the situation. Note to self: Reach for a nice soothing tea before an appointment like that; a caffeine rush does not help anything. So, I paced around the same exact room where I had found out my initial diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and I couldn’t help but feel like I was going to faint. I never thought I could be more nervous than I was on D-Day (diagnosis day) but I was.
Within moments of the doctor entering the room, he said that the bone marrow looked perfect and is exactly what they wanted!! **huge sigh of relief** After so many ups and downs, we had finally closed this chapter. The doctor did make it clear that transitioning back to work and normal life can be difficult.. Really, what is normal? My main focus now has to be defining a new normal since professional patient has essentially been my job and now that job is over. I’ll have to continue to fight to stay on the right path, not get deterred from my dreams and not be fearful of the future.
As liberating as completing cancer treatments and getting such great news is, the word ‘cure’ isn’t used for at least 5 years so I still have a lot of milestones to overcome. For now, I am down to 6-week follow ups for blood draws and port flushes and will have another bone marrow biopsy in 6 months. I’ll slowly taper down to appointments every few months to twice a year, etc. So strange that I didn’t think of it before but the doctor said we’ll eventually get down annual appointments but ‘he’ll be following me for the rest of my life.’ This will never be a chapter completely closed. It is something that will always be monitored and still part of me. Not like I ever thought I’d forget about it, but I really don’t want it to define me in the future either.
As I sit in my new living room reflecting on the 9 months that have passed – the 4 bone marrow biopsies, 1 round of induction chemotherapy and 4 rounds of consolidation chemotherapy, over 3 months spent inpatient at the hospital from various stays, countless blood and platelet transfusions, multiple prophylactic antibiotics, a 10 day stint in ICU, a portocath and picc line, a trip to Dana-Farber – the list goes on. But I sit here today, smiling, elated, relieved. Because there is another way to look at the past 9 months – Countless well wishes on social media, a TON of visitors in the hospital, 1 huge fundraiser at Cabo, 2 fitness competitions in my honor through Paradiso Crossfit and PBC bootcamp, 2 shirts made, a blood drive, 1 bike/bar crawl fundraiser, was an honored hero at the annual Bachelor Auctions for LLS, have had an insane amount of donations, letters, cards, books, journals, prayer shawls, blankets, toiletries, jewelry.. the list goes on.. that made me feel so special and want to fight that much harder. I actually sat down and read through all of the cards today and such beautiful things were said and I am touched by all of the love!
So THANK YOU to everyone who reached out, said a prayer, kept me in your thoughts and sent positive energy! I am forever grateful for the love I received during the most difficult time of my life. I plan to use all of that inspiration in creating a non-profit of my own. I would love for anyone going through cancer to feel the amazing energy I did and know that they have a whole community rooting for them.
I recently purchased a headband from an amazing company called Headbands of Hope . For every headband purchased, a headband is donated to a child fighting cancer and $1 is donated to childhood cancer. I wore mine last night to U-Tiki for my celebratory dinner with Will. LOVE the pixie headband and even more what it stands for.
We have such an amazing community that I am so incredibly thankful for. You see it in our town, our country rather, coming together full force searching for Austin and Perry. It really hits home growing up in Jupiter and many times being on the seas in scary weather. This could be any one of us and I hope these boys are found. As I learned the hard way 9 months ago, as those mothers know today and as many will learn in the future, life can change in an instant. What matters today could mean nothing tomorrow. The silver lining in any tragedy is seeing the support from family, friends, coworkers and strangers alike. People rallying when you can’t. Such a blessing in disguise.
Through this incredibly difficult, trying time I was able to meet some of the most amazing people along the way. I am lucky enough to have made real friendships with some of the nurses and PAs that have taken care of me along the way. I have such a different perspective on life, respect for the oncology community, and have learned to be present everyday in a way I was never able to before. For that I am lucky and very happily taking the next step into my future. I’m ready for the challenge! (annddd I still intend on posting on my blog so this isn’t the end of it!!)
Happily signing off 🙂