– or roughly 6,570:
– or roughly 6,570:
Truthfully, the thought never even remotely came close to crossing my mind. Little did I know that at my routine bone marrow transplant check-up this morning, it’d be my last.
His words in a nutshell: “Your primary care doctors have written detailed notes on you, & you’re doing really good,” Dr. Yanik reported. “You don’t need to see me anymore.”
I’ve been regularly seeing the indescribably spectacular Dr. Yanik for the last 17 years of my life, since I was 16 years old!
Weird, but I almost feel like the good news is a giant slap in the face.
On the 1 hand, it’s fantastic to hear I’m in such good condition
– my blood counts are within normal range &
– my immune system is pretty much back to normal (finally!!!)
but on the other hand, a steady part of my life for the past 17 years is unexpectedly being stripped away.
≡ My 2 unrelated bone marrow transplants,
≡ 60 infusions of Arsenic,
≡ Countless transfusions of blood products,
≡ Too many Intensive Care hospital admissions,
≡ Months spent admitted on the cancer floor,
≡ Rare Moments of Positive Medical News,
≡ Devastating Times of Especially Menacing Health Crises &
≡ Years upon years of doctor check-ups like today’s:
It all adds up to
Many Very Significant Lifelong Memories
A Patient Who Will Not Miss being sick,
but will miss
her all-time favorite physician who was with her while she was.
Friday I got a Keurig coffee maker for 20% off at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I also got Paul Newman’s organic medium roast coffee & gluten free caramel creamer, that’s about as healthy as I personally can get it & still enjoy the flavor a lot.
The machine is so easy! All you do is pour water in, put the pod in its place, & press “brew.” . . .
That’s about the extent of my attention span making things in the kitchen. Cleaning is easy too, there’s nothing to it.
As my energy level’s clearly decreased over the years due to continuing effects of my eight-year cancer combat, I’m thankful for the obvious energizing boost from my fairly newfound love of coffee, including the Keurig coffee maker I bought yesterday that makes drinking my latest beverage of choice simple – & cheaper since I won’t have to shell out nearly $5/visit for a cup of joe outside my home!
So be truly glad!
There is wonderful joy ahead,
even though the going is rough
for a while down there.
1 Peter 1:6
I was at home on the laptop Saturday evening & commenting how repulsed I become hearing a person hack up crap from their throat when they’re sick.
“C’mon, like we haven’t listened to you a thousand times when you’re sick,” immediately countered my Mom.
What a line! And to her only daughter for Pete’s sake! (All right, there’s actually 3 of us, but still . . . )
“Oh, puh-lease!” I shot back to her obviously absurd comment to me. “That’s an understatement because you’ve heard me being sick
at least a thousand times! . . .
The second page of the fortieth chapter describes cancer-treatment fatigue well. “Charlie felt pretty good, considering the short walk down the hall tired him a bit.” “The hall” was a dreaded term for me on the hospital cancer floor. Continuous daily suggestions to get out of bed & walk down the hall were not times I wanted to partake in, feeling so weak & lousy from all the nasty strong drugs pumped into me.
Often a goal from my nurse or my Mom would be for me to get out of my hospital bed & walk – accompanied by my constant companion the IV machine & somebody to help my broken body stay upright to take steps of course – down 3 doors, & a little more each day just to get my body moving until I could make an entire EXHAUSTING lap around the floor. I hated that! Not to mention the tangled mess of IV tubes all around me; 1 slip = potentially yanking out an IV line. Nothing was better after that than collapsing back into bed.
You’re more likely to get cancer again if you’ve already had the disease once, so sunshine is strictly limited since no one’s looking for skin cancer or any other ailments. Charlie spent “a few minutes” in sunshine, “only what was allowed,” so reading the latter quoted phrase sparked the memory.
One lesson in a letter from “The Sender” is that you can either live in “Vision” or in “Circumstance.” My spectacular Mom chose to live in vision, informing doctors while I was deathly ill in Intensive Care that I would go to college one day; the doctors, she told me later, would sadly shake their heads at the impossible thought she envisioned for me. Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with a God.” God gave me an incredibly special hardworking & encouraging Mom who never let me dwell on my sick circumstances but rather, had me always look towards a bright future. I love you so much, Mom, THANKS!!!!!
Did a ton of bricks just hit me? No, it was page 207 of “The Sender.” Although Charlie was experiencing the physical negative effects of cancer in many ways, ways like his weakness which was easily noticed by others, those close to him knew he was “stronger in so many ways. Ways that mattered. . . What he’d gained was immeasurably more valuable. What he’d gained was a heart and spirit that money can’t buy.” Same For Me. EXACTLY THE SAME.
However, even with the above paragraph in mind, it’s impossible for me to say “I wouldn’t change what I’ve learned from 8 years fighting cancer for anything” because of the hell on earth that I went through to get where I am. I mean, even if I never had cancer, I’d still be the smart person I was before I got sick. The side effects I live with now make life enormously difficult; I’d go with never having had cancer in the first place if I had my druthers, but this is where I need to trust All-Knowing God with my life’s plan because He Knows Best.
On chapter 38’s page 194 “The Sender” writes in a letter “And I guess you grow up when you get cancer. . . Sometimes it’s God’s way of growing us up.”
Definitely. Cancer is no joke. You feel emotions & gain perspectives you’ve never had before. You experience an abundance of life well beyond your years. I grew up when I was 13 & underwent my first 3 rounds of chemotherapy. Growing up involves doing things you don’t want, but need, to do – like the plethora of unpleasant protocol associated with cancer treatment & also signing an advance directive with a living will on multiple occasions in case I died, even though I barely understood what the paperwork was that was being shoved in my face – as well as thinking about the important parts of life that truly matter:
including all of my different relationships with people & how I wanted to make them better relationships,
wanting to make each day a meaningful one – no longer flawed with conflicts now seen Clearer Than Ever Before as SO pointless & insignificant aka colossal time-wasters – with my very strongly renewed appreciation for the GIFT OF LIFE now that I had to fight so hard to keep mine.
I remember years ago feeling insulted thinking of the common line out in the world that says “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” because I felt like I had grown so much in wisdom despite not having my health. This line from the book is so true for every person: “But God will grow you up one way or the other and he seems to do it for his reasons, not ours.”
I’ve discovered firsthand that you never know how strong you are until you need to be. Had I known the extent of my multiple-years horrific cancer battle ahead of time, I never could’ve handled it. Too much! Referring to the little boy also battling cancer who became a friend of Charlie’s, “That little acorn needed to summon something inside of himself that only a cancer survivor can know. It’s a special sort of grit and faith and vision and tenacity.”
It’s unbelievable what people can handle when they need to. Like a line in the book, “It’s all about choosing despite how you feel” (“choosing” to . . . be positive rather than grumpy; be strong instead of weak; be a fighter & not give up, etc). With God & my family’s ceaseless loving encouragement & support, looking back I’m astounded at all the things I had the strength to endure throughout my 4 relapses with leukemia. Honestly, it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I actually did it. And AT THE SAME TIME successfully graduated both high school & college. All the glory of those immense accomplishments goes straight to Our Powerful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!