What is your biggest fear? I’m not talking about the dark, spiders or clowns. Although, maybe for some; perhaps one or all of those could be your biggest fear(s). I mean, really think about it. Reach deep down in yourself and pull out what scares you more than anything in this world. The rip your heart out scary stuff. Perhaps it’s being alone. Maybe something that happened to you in your childhood that you don’t dare speak of to anyone. For me, most of my fears were ripped from me back in 2014. I was always the adventurous type and now more than ever, I’m up for new experiences, adventures, and a challenge. But even with all of this said, I have one huge fear that will never go away and that was not present before. Leukemia. Oddly enough, I’m not scared of death. The struggles and pain that goes along with cancer only cancer patients and survivors can understand. It’s not something that can ever be explained. To go through cancer again is my biggest fear.
I remember sometimes dreaming those first few crucial months in the hospital. I was Michele. I had long blonde hair. I had a life and I was living. They were always slightly different but it was always similar in the way that I was “dreaming” of what I had lost. I would wake to the coldness of a hospital room and hooked up to machines and beeping noises. There was no long blonde hair and there was no Michele. I didn’t know it then but I was already transforming. These dreams continued into 2015 while I was home laid up in a bed, always of the Michele before cancer. I’d always wake up to reality. Each morning I’d wake and still do to this day, “Yes, you had leukemia and it has forever changed you. Now get out of bed.”
I dream of being normal yet I never will be. From the beginning of my diagnosis I fought with the attitude of “ignorance is bliss.” For me, I felt it helped me to fight harder not knowing how very bad it was. It worked. Yet, I am still at risk and still fight health issues on a daily basis. Here’s a dose of reality that I recently got. I’m still at a high risk of relapse for at least three years post transplant. The risk of relapse at 5 years post transplant is still a staggering 38%. To have this information gives me mixed emotions. It makes me scared but gives me the incentive to want to live life to the fullest. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” – something I have stressed throughout my blog and that I try so very hard to do myself. I know, it is easier said than done. But life is such a fragile thing and precious gift and we should treat it as such.
I’m at a crossroad in my life right now and it’s up to me how I choose, once again, how I face everything that comes my way. So many things that are completely out of my control. Let’s face it, in life you quickly learn that you can’t control people, their actions, or what life throws your way. But what you can control is how you react. I do believe that good things come to those who wait.
As mentioned in my last blog, See Me Thrive, I plan to do just that. Thrive. I’m certainly not perfect though. When times get hard, as they certainly are lately, I close my eyes and I wander back to the place in my mind I rarely dare to go. I venture back to all the struggles I had while cancer was trying to take me.
- Hearing the word cancer and having my world come crashing down.
- Aggressive chemotherapies.
- Bone marrow biopsies and Spinal Taps.
- Endless needles, tests, MRI’s, CAT Scans.
- Losing my hair, brows, lashes.
- Losing me.
- Gaining fluid, gaining weight. Losing weight.
- Will I live? Am I going to die? Scared. Angry.
- Couldn’t bathe myself. Could barely walk.
- Double Cord Blood Transplant.
- GVHD of the digestive tract.
- 911 rides and hospital stays in the hospital.
- I can’t take this anymore.
- Longest recovery ever.
- When will this nightmare end? Panic attacks.
- Crippling head pain.
- Mom gets breast cancer. Are we cursed? Watch mom go through mastectomy and chemo/cancer pain while at my lowest weight.
My eyes open. I take deep breaths knowing that if I can survive that kind of pain, I can survive whatever the present and the future may hold. I’m not saying it’s easy or that’s it’s going to be easy. I’m not putting up some facade. I’m saying that I’m human and that I’m doing the best that I possibly can be doing right now considering the circumstances. I will put one foot in front of another and take it one day at a time much like I’ve been doing for the past several years. So I may have chosen ignorance at one point in my life as a way of survival but I am now choosing wisdom. I will wake up tomorrow after restlessly dreaming the night away and say to myself, “Yes, you had leukemia and it has forever changed you. Now get out of bed.”