“You have cancer.” Those are the words a person never expects to hear in their lifetime. It only happens to other people. It won’t touch me or my family. At least that’s what I thought until everything changed in early 2014. I was 30 years old, the best shape of my life and a healthy eater. Leukemia didn’t care. It latched onto me and took over 85% of my body. I had less than a 10% chance of survival.
I’m Gonna Pray
This news came after days of being in the hospital not knowing what was wrong. I’d never been so scared or in that much pain. After the diagnosis, it felt like one hit after another. A few days after endless tests and having to start aggressive chemotherapy immediately, the Dr’s realized I had an odd gene which meant I would need a bone marrow transplant. If a donor wasn’t found for me to have this transplant, my life expectancy was less than a year.
No donor was found for me. It was a race against time. The Dr. had to go a different route.
I remember asking God to please let me live. I would do this repeatedly every day, multiple times a day.
My double cord blood transplant took place on 7/31/14. I’ve hit my 5 years this year which is a huge milestone! In the leukemia world, they call the date of your transplant your “rebirth.” I’m still here! I’m a fighter. One fight after another and the struggles were and are still never ending. There are so many people stricken with cancer who don’t survive. Young children who haven’t even began their lives. They shouldn’t be going through any of that senseless pain. No one should.
For those of us who do survive, we have life-long affects. You see, the thing is…it may be in the past but it’s always a part of our present in so many ways you don’t see. It can be very lonely when you feel you no longer have people you can relate to. I’m talking to all cancer survivors now. My heart aches for you. I understand the sadness. The uncertainty. The never ending Dr’s appointments. The pain. The anger. The wishing it had never happened.
Be Kind. You never know what happened in someone’s past that has changed who they are today.
Who are you?
We have one life to live and it’s up to us what we do with it. I’ve been so consumed with trying to be normal (what’s normal anyways?), to be the Michele pre-cancer, that I’ve lost sight of who I have become. That’s sad. We should all strive to be authentic and true to ourselves. From the beginning of my new career as a professional patient I’ve been told that I’ll need to get use to the “new normal.” I’ve been fighting that for years now.
I’ve finally chosen to no longer fight that and embrace the new normal. And it only took 5 years. I’m a bit of a slow learner…
Life hasn’t been a bed of roses these past few years for me. But if I take on everything like I did with leukemia; one day at a time, with a smile on my face, and laughing A LOT. I’d like to think things are going to be alright. Because I’m still here. I’m alive and breathing. At the end of the day, that is a lot to be grateful for.
“The eyes are the window to your soul.” – William Shakespeare