Friday, December 21, 2012

Cellular Memory...Does It Exist???

What is Cellular Memory...and does it exist?

I haven't even heard of this until late this evening.  I was on FB scrolling through my news feed and found that one of the pages I'm subscribed to had an article regarding 'cellular memory'.  Cellular memory is a variation of body memory, the psuedoscientific hypothesis that memories can be stored in individual cells (Wikipedia 2012).  I began reading the article and couldn't believe what I was reading.  Finally, I felt like I wasn't losing my mind.  There have been so many changes that I have been trying to cope with since my transplant.  And for anyone who knows me, I'm a definitely a 'thinker'.  I like to think and process things until I have a full understanding of what is occurring in my life. 

Since my transplant, I have made statements to my family and friends about some of the changes I have gone through.  Many of those changes have been related to my food and seasonal allergies, which appear to be non-existent now.  Now, this could be definitely related to the chemotherapy and wiping out my immune system, but could it also be in relation to my donor???  Another change which really perplexes me is my craving for seafood.  My whole life I have hated seafood.  I have disliked it so much that I have even ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from a restaurant because I didn't want to eat seafood.  Now, I crave it.  Could this also be in relation to my donor???  I also enjoyed eating sweets and now I can hardly enjoy even a bite of cakes, cookies, pies etc.  I'm really not complaining much about that due to their unhealthy nature but I can't help but wonder, could this be related to my donor???

As I stated before in one of my previous blogs, I was battling the feeling as though my body was just a vessel that doesn't entirely feel as though it belongs to me anymore.  It's having the knowledge of knowing that the blood that flows through my body is no longer my own.  It's someone else's (with their cells and genetic make-up).  So, is it really that hard to believe that some of the changes I have gone through both physically and mentally could be related to this 'cellular memory' theory.

Even my taste in music has changed.  As weird as this may be, I have a very broad spectrum of music that I listen too.  I grew up listening to 50's music and have always enjoyed but now I'm finding it very hard to tolerate, along with country.  I still have a broad spectrum but if I'm somewhere and that music begins to play, I become very annoyed and just want to change the station.  I have been wondering why this sudden change in my taste of music.  Could this be related to my donor as well???

I know I really won't have the answers as to why these things are occurring.  Could it be donor related? Could it just be related to the whole experience with the possibility of death and changing my thoughts, views and perspectives on life?  Who really knows, but it does give you something to think about.

I found it very interesting in one of the articles below, that gave a statistic of the top three countries that import and export donations.  Those three countries consisted of the United States 45%; Germany 29% and France 25%.  I had stated in a previous blog about my donor being a 100% match and being of European descent.  I am half French and half Slovak.  How interesting and how likely it maybe that my donor may just be a French woman and may very well share a genetic history.  I can't wait to explore this further and hope that she will communicate with me.  Ironically,one of the many countries that has read my blogs has been France.  Could this mean something???

Could I be reading too much into this?  Maybe.  But I truly believe there has too be some correlation with all of it.  As I mentioned, I have been thinking about this for the past two years and have never heard of 'cellular memory' until just this evening.  I really don't believe in coincidences.  I believe there is a correlation and I'm definitely going to explore this. 

If you have undergone a transplant or know of anyone who has, have you or they experienced any of these symptoms.  If so, please comment.  I'm really curious and I want to learn more.

Organ Transplants and Cellular Memory (

Cellular Memory - Myth or Reality??? (

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can You Promise It Will Be Okay???

I've been debating on whether I should post anything regarding the recent tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut.  I even have reduced my time on FB because of all the news feeds and reminders of the tragedy and you can't turn on the TV without a reminder of what has happened. But after this morning, I decided I needed to write about it and how it has affected my family.  And I believe, that my fight with cancer and transplant has opened my eyes to the negative things in life that occur and this is one of those lessons.

As I was taking the kids to school this morning, my son looks over at me and he looks into my eyes and says "Mom, I'm scared" and my heart felt like it was falling apart.  As parents, we try our best to make our children feel protected and safe and this morning I was reminded (and I'm sure many other parents were reminded) that when they leave our side that is not guaranteed.  The only thing I could do was reassure him and my daughter that every school in the US is hyper alert and will take every action and use every resource possible to make sure all the kids are safe while in their care.  As we were pulling up to the school there were several men outside and a policeman at the door escorting children in.  I explained to them that they're there for their protection and if at anytime they get scared or worried, they need to let their teachers know and their teachers will make sure they can speak to someone about their fears.  As they were getting out of the car, my son looks over his shoulder and pauses and I could tell by the look on his face and the emotion in his eyes that  he was looking for reassurance.  All I could do was smile and a nod letting him know that it was okay.

But really is it "okay"???  One thing I have learned these past few years, is that there is no guarantee.  While fighting and struggling with cancer and my transplant, I learned that there are no promises.  One thing we learned as a family is that there is no promise of a tomorrow, and can only promise a "right now".  And that that "right now" is constantly changing.  My husband and I believed that our children needed to be aware of what was going on regarding my health.  We communicated with them the reality of the situation on a level that they could understand.  And so, this is what we have done with this tragedy as well.  Some may agree and some may not, but for us, we need to educate our children on this tragedy and allow them to process this reality.  By doing this, it provides them with the tools on how to cope and process when faced with circumstances that will be challenging, tragic, etc.

One of life's lessons we as a family learned, is that you can not promise everything will be okay.  I couldn't promise to my children that my cancer would go away, and I can't promise that it won't return.  Also, I can't promise they will be 100% safe here at home or even at school, but I can promise that my husband and I, and even the school, will do everything we can to try our best to keep them safe and explain to them how we will do that.

One thing I have learned through out my battle to remain alive, is that bad things happen and there is no stopping them.  We can do more research, create more laws, and provide more restrictions but it will not stop things like this from happening.  Whatever challenges or tragedies we are faced with, we will cope, process and heal. This is life...this is reality.

This is DEDICATED to the victim's and victim's families of Newtown, Connecticut.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.  God bless!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Are You Complacent???

I have spent a lot of my day today on and off FB and reading posts on pages related to bone marrow/stem-cell transplants.  There were a few questions posted that had me thinking about my experience with my leukemia diagnosis, remission, relapse, and transplant.  It made me think of the similarities I share with some and also the differences.  There were posts by some that even after two years post-transplant they still have fears.  There was a posting that someone stated that they haven't been feeling well and was lacking the motivation to even want to get out of bed to go to work and they really didn't understand why because they have been doing well.  Later they realized that it was the anniversary of their diagnosis and that even know they put that in the past and moved on, subconsciously their mind or body hadn't forgotten.  It saddens me that many still struggle with that but it also helps me not feel so alone in the post-transplant journey.  Even though I'm beginning to move on, "it's" always there no matter how much I try to go on with my life.  It's not even something that I obsess over or are in constant fear about.  It's just a reminder that things can be going so well that we can keep living day by day and all of a sudden something occurs that brings us back to that moment in time, for me its either the initial diagnosis, relapse, or something related to the cancer experience.  It's one of those whispers to let us know that, yes, we may be doing better and appear healthy but don't get too comfortable or complacent, which leads me to my two-year post-transplant appointment.

On Wednesday last week, I had my two year post-transplant appointment which also meant receiving the results of my bone marrow biopsy.  I was feeling very optimistic and untouchable.  Even though I had a bit of a cold, I was feeling as good as I could be and didn't have any concerns.  Of course, I was experiencing the natural anxiety that comes with waiting for the results but deep down I really felt okay.  My doctor's assistant came in to speak with me prior to my doctor coming in and she began to go over my biopsy results.  Now this time it was very different.  Usually my doctor would come in and say everything looks great, your numbers are good, tell me I'm still 100% donor cells and would perform the usual exam. During his time telling me this, he would be flipping through sheets of print outs that he would read and never offered for us to see.  I, or my family, never questioned it and never asked to look at it ourselves because as long as he said everything looked good, what was the point really.  Its just a paper with a bunch of numbers and percentages and names I can't even pronounce so why bother to look.  However, this time, the assistant flipped through the pages and pointed things out to us.  She stated that most of the numbers were in the normal range and that even some things had improved.  But she also reported that some numbers were lower than normal and others that were higher than normal.  Instantly, my body became tense.  I straightened up and became more alert.  My mind was racing and trying to pay attention to what she was saying while simultaneously trying to remember how things were when I was initially diagnosed.  Because of my racing thoughts all I heard was "these white blood cells are more elevated than normal" and that's all I heard.  Those words are all that I hung onto because when I was initially diagnosed it was those numbers that were so elevated that alerted the doctors to possible leukemia.  So here I am sitting in this room, hearing elevated numbers.  I began thinking "are you kidding me"..."this is a joke, right"..."there has to be a hidden camera or else I'm dreaming...yes, that's it I'm dreaming, right?".  I began to panic, my chest got heavy, my throat started closing up on me, my eyes began to burn and I could feel the tears.  I began thinking of my children, and my husband.  I began thinking, "no, this can not be happening again, it's so not fair to them and it's certainly not fair to me".  The assistant was taken aback by my reaction because as she was explaining the numbers and that these lows and highs are normal, I didn't hear it in my panic mode.  All I heard was "elevated numbers" and I freaked.  After sometime of reassurance from her and my doctor, I was able to relax a little but not entirely.  It was another reminder of not becoming to complacent with how things are.  That things can change in a matter of seconds.  It doesn't mean that we should obsess or live in fear all the time, it's just a reminder that nothing in life is static.  So its a week later and I'm experiencing small anxiety or panic attacks.  From what I've read from other's who have gone through similar circumstances, it appears quite common and helps me feel less neurotic.  I hope that this will lessen as time moves on as I become stronger and regain my strength.  Many people have stated, in their efforts of trying to comfort, to not worry about it, etc. and its true you can't obsess over it but you can't forget either.  When you yourself have experienced a traumatic event that is life-threatening, it's impossible to forget. Even though you are moving forward, "it's" always there in the back of your mind and its a reminder to embrace life and to embrace those around you. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Do You 'Believe'?

What do you believe?  Do you believe a God exists?  Do you believe in a God and a Devil?  I'm not here to force my beliefs on anyone.  I'm just relating my story on my own spiritual struggles while going through my leukemia, relapse and transplant. 

A friend of mine posted a question on FB regarding her son asking about God and the Devil and which one makes people sick.  She asked for assistance on what she should say to her son when she doens't even understand.  And the complexity of God's existence, or whether it's God's work or the Devil's is a very complex thing to adults and even more so to children.

I'm not an overly religious person, nor do I attend church regularly but I do believe in the existence of God.  I was baptized and confirmed Catholic and while I still follow some of those traditions, which may be more of a learned experience, I don't fully accept or follow the Catholic faith, nor any other specific religion.  I believe that those human and spiritual morals that were instilled in me as a child has led me to where I am today spiritually. 

When I was first diagnosed with leukemia, I was in shock.  I was scared.  I didn't have time to question why God was doing this to me.  However, during my long hospital stays and exclusion from my home and family, that's when I began to question the "why's" of my situation.  At times, I was confused, sad, and many times angry.  I couldn't possibly understand why, if there was a God, He would be doing this to me.  I wasn't a malicious or spiteful person, so why would He be doing this to me?  And when I went into remission the first time, I think I began to get the answer of "why".  Prior to leukemia, I may not have been malicious or spiteful, but I was very unhappy and not very healthy.  My unhappiness was mostly my job which lead to me being unhealthy.  As I stated in previous blogs, I worked as a supervisor for a Children & Youth agency, where we investigated all forms of abuse and neglect of children.  Sometimes, we would need to remove children from their homes and families, which was sad and stressful.  But, in reality for me, that was just minimal compared to the other stress I was putting upon myself.  I was trying so hard to be a professional and be respected within my professional network that I was neglecting myself and even my family.  I was consuming myself in my work and really not getting anywhere.  I believe I was failing more than achieving.  On top of my self-induced consumption of my job, I was using smoking as an outlet for that stress.  I was telling myself that my smoking was my release of work stress or any other stress that came my way.  I tried to quit a few times but never really succeeded until my diagnosis of leukemia.  I remember months prior to my diagnosis, I would be outside having a cigarette and asking for God's strength and help in quitting the habit.  At the time, I was thinking of His help in the form of just stopping and not picking up another cigarette, like going cold turkey with no other ramifications.  But He knew, and I knew deep down, that it was going to take something a little more for that habit to break.  That's where my leukemia comes into play.  I believe it was God's way of helping me kick that habit but also another way of looking at my life in general and start making better decisions for a better, healthier self.  Which is where my job comes into play.  I felt that during my time away during my treatments, maybe that's exactly what I needed.  I needed that break, even though it was cancer, I needed to regroup and regenerate myself.  So after some time, after treatment and some recovery, I thought that I was better emotionally, mentally, and physically.  So I returned to work and quickly discovered that this isn't where I should be anymore.  I kept my ears and eyes open for other opportunities but never could find the next thing.  I felt myself going down that same path professionally.  My personal life however, was so much different.  I felt carefree and wanted to celebrate everyday.  My celebration was more extreme than it was before and so, I think, with my relapse it was God's way of a 'reality check'.  His way of saying "ok, yes, in your personal life you're beginning to get it but you need to slow down a bit and your still stuck in your professional rut".  Hence, my relapse.  My relapse and transplant has lead me to this happy medium.  After sometime, I did return to work part-time, but I knew even before I went back that I wasn't fully dedicated to it and that it wasn't what I wanted.  I knew it was time to move on.  However, I needed to go back, to prove to myself that it was the right decision and for closure on that part of my life.  I'm extremely grateful for my co-workers and superiors and the other professionals within my working network who were so supportive of my circumstances.  I will always look back without any regrets because those experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. 

And so here I am today, trying to figure out what it is I need to be doing next. What is next in my journey and my friend's posting on FB this morning has lead me to this blog today.  If you have read, "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Albom, you will be able to understand what I'm trying to say.  In answering her question on whether, God or the Devil, makes people sick, I truly think it's God.  Even though experiencing cancer or some other life-altering disease or circumstance seems horrific, not just for me but anyone, I believe it's done with a purpose.  And maybe God's plans for me, not only included my self-discovery and healing, but others as well.  These trials (i.e. health/disease, world catastrophe's, etc) that we experience, are what makes us stronger.  It's God's way of giving us reality checks and not taking things for granted.  And that each of our own experience affects others too.  It's like a domino affect.  I believe that it was in God's plan for me to be diagnosis with leukemia, to experience relapse and transplant, because in some way that has affected other's around me too.  It has shaped them in some way and has had them maybe look at things differently.  And it doesn't have to include people that even know me.  It includes anyone who I have been in contact with as a family member, friend, and even a stranger.  That's one of the things that occur in "The Five People You Meet in Heaven".  After dying a man meets a man in Heaven he doesn't even know and that man tells him that because of a decision you made, I ended up in an accident that has lead me here.  So after thinking about that for sometime, that has led me partially to my belief's as well.  It's what helps me to cope with the things in life that seem so traumatic.  Such as a child with a disease who is dying, or a parent experiencing a loss of a child, or someone dying in an accident or a natural catastrophe. And whatever choice or action they have made, it has affected someone around them in their own journey.   And so, their passing whether peaceful or traumatic was or is God's plan.  And we will never know what His plan was, is, or will be.  Just that He has a plan and when fulfilled, we pass on, and continue on a new journey.  Maybe God's plan for me was to change my professional life and find something else I'm more passionate about and more rewarding.  And it doesn't have to be just one plan.  Maybe His plan also included my blog.  God knowing how much I think and reflect on things, this was His plan.  He knew I needed a way of reaching out to others.  He knows that I'm not technically challenged and that I could use my strengths and voice and try to reach out to others.  And if that is the case, I have definitely succeeded.  I now have over 17 countries accessing and reading my blogs.  I just can't get over all of that.  It's amazing how many people that I don't even know have reached out and has sent me messages over this simple thing I began to initially, cope and heal, after everything I've been through.  Now, it's affecting others as well.

So, after a quite lengthy blog, I believe that God does have a plan for us.  It may be one or it may be many.  I believe that all of life's trials are not subjected to us with any form of malice in mind, but it's His way of trying to strengthen us and not take for granted or become to complacent in this thing we call 'life'.  So we all need to be aware of His whispers and sometimes His shouts and not think of it as Him being malicious, but of a lesson He is trying to teach.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Well, it’s official; I got my bone marrow biopsy results today.  My doctor states I’m still in remission and I have 100% donor cells (which is a good thing)!!!  My appointment began with the physician assistant reviewing my results and explained more in depth what all the numbers mean, etc.  All I heard was this number is on the lower side and this other number is higher than normal.  The “higher than normal” part scared me because that was the red flag that told us something was wrong three years ago.  But both the physician assistant and the doctor stated that all is well and assured me that I’m still in remission.

I am very happy about this don’t get me wrong.  I’m not afraid to live and embrace life but why do I not feel the need to celebrate.  I have experienced beating leukemia the first time and I celebrated that remission.  I was living and loving life, than I relapsed.  The relapse changed me.  Even though everything was looking good, the relapse is preventing me now from fully celebrating this two-year remission.  That initial relapse has kept things in perspective for me.  It tells me that just because everything is looking good and feeling good, it can all be taken away in a second.  I think it has kept me more grounded and realistic.

During my first bout and treatment with leukemia , the doctors were saying how well I was doing and how quickly my body was healing and recovering my from chemo treatments.  They kept telling me how great everything was and when I made it to that year mark of being in remission, I was told that my chances of relapse were significantly low.  Well, I was that small percentage that relapsed.  So here I am today, being told the same things.  Being told how well I’m doing, how my body is going to take its time in recovering.  So, after hearing all the same things that were stated to me before, yes, I’m a little hesitate to celebrate. 

I guess how I am looking at things now, I see myself as already celebrating.  I’m enjoying this 3rd chance of life.  I’m embracing life.  I’m embracing me.  And by embracing all that is being given to me, now is my form of celebration.  I don’t want to label this “celebration” to just this day or to this biopsy or appointment.  I am already celebrating by being able to live and breathe each day with my husband and children, family and friends.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


The past few days I have been sick and slowly recovering.  Each day keeps getting better and all I can do is hope and pray that things continue to improve.  During my down time, I have been doing a lot of reading on FB and checking out the pages I subscribe to.  Some of these pages are related to Leukemia and Bone Marrow Stem-Cell transplants.  I have noticed some postings on those pages where some have posted of their upcoming transplants, and their worries, fears, and even gratitude and praise.  With those posts of reporting their fears or missing their family while going through this intensive procedure and seclusion, I can relate to those fears and to those feelings of loneliness.

This blog is specifically for those individuals.  I know each person has their own experience and I believe we have the same fears and questions.  For those of us who have gone through the pre-transplant process, we are counseled and made aware of every little thing that is both well and unpleasant.  Sometimes those unpleasant moments can drain you but "you can do it".  Remember why your fighting.  First and foremost, your fighting for YOU!!!  Secondly, if your a parent, your fighting for your children, spouse, or significant other.  Your fighting for your family and friends.  As hard as it is sometimes, you must have the mindset of winning.  Cancer will not beat you, you will beat cancer.  I'm not being totally unrealistic and I know there will be days where you are down emotionally, and that is OK.  That is to be expected.  So, don't let anyone say to you that you shouldn't cry, or even be angry.  You have every right to feel the way you feel.  It's all about the process and healing.  It has taken me some time, almost two years, to finally start moving on from the angry stage.  I was having a hard time coping with all the inner and outer changes and I wanted my old self back.  But I'm not sure what really happened, but one day it just clicked.  I realized that my "old self" will never be.  And this "new self" is so much better.  You may not feel it now but one day you will.  You will embrace it and love it even more than you ever did before. 

It can be difficult being away from your family and friends, but with daily contact via phone or internet web calls (i.e. Skype), it really helps emotionally but it also helps the soul.  It helps to keep receiving that encouragement and while sometimes you may not want to hear it, you do remember those words and it makes you fight harder.

You may experience some re-hospitalizations, and those times can become frustrating, but they are very normal and not uncommon.  Just remember during those times, how far you've come and that this is just part of the process and healing. 

So, if your reading this and have gone through, or will be going through transplant, just know you are not alone.  Don't beat yourself up emotionally because you will have some down days, but those down days will only make you stronger.  Believe in yourself, because I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!