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 (http://www.paulpearsall.com/info/press/3.html)

Cellular Memory - Myth or Reality??? (http://suite101.com/article/cellular-memory---myth-or-reality-a303357)

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

Celebrate???



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

Encouragement


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!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

My "Two-Year" Re-Birthday



It seems I have been looking forward to this day for so long and it's finally here.  From what I'm told, it's quite a monumental day for people of the transplant community.  I've been told that for someone that has undergone a bone marrow stem-cell transplant, two years means that the possibility of a relapse significantly lessens.  I face this day with so many emotions, excitement and joy, is front and foremost. 

Even though I haven't received the results of my biopsy yet, I believe it's going to be good news!!!  I feel that I'm finally wanting to move forward.  In fact, this blog has helped me on that journey.  It's so therapeutic to put in writing and words the journey I have been on. The journey has been long with many struggles which have been balanced out with the many blessings of my current health and being able to be surrounded by my family and friends.  I know that there will be some struggles, but those are just minor compared to what it was.  I began emotionally feeling this momentous day, on and off, yesterday.  I found myself tearing up and even have found myself this morning doing the same thing.  But these tears are not of sadness, they are tears of gratitude, tears of hope, and tears of wonder.  I truly believe I have come full-circle and I am looking so forward to what's next. 

I'm moving forward with hopes of a brighter future and whatever obstacles may try to disrupt this journey, I know I will be able to conquer those obstacles that lie ahead.  I truly believe that those obstacles are what keep us grounded.  They keep us motivated, they keep us fighting for the better, and help us to appreciate the "gift of life" and all the splendid things it offers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sick, sick, sick




Well, its that time of year.  The time of year that everyone dreads.  Flu season!!!  Yes, everyone dreads it, but I think, the immune-suppressed dread it a little more.  What may take a normal healthy person to recover after a few days, takes probably twice as that for the immune-suppressed.  I have been laid out on the couch for at least 3 or 4 days.  I don't have much energy and I don't even have much of an appetite.  I think, in those few days that have passed, I have only had one meal per day.  It's not intentionally, just can't seem to have an appetite.  I called my doctor yesterday and now I'm on an antibiotic, so I'm feeling a bit more energetic.  Not much, but some, at least enough to want to eat.  I have been sustaining my body on Vitamin water, so at least I am getting some form of nutrition.

This is just one of many struggles after transplant.  Even though it will be two years, there still are complications.  It can be frustrating because you go for a period of time feeling as if your body and energy is returning back to normal than, yes, another WHAM, and your knocked back to feeling like crap.  I know sickness is a part of life and even the healthiest of people experience the common cold or flu.  But for me, and maybe other people who have experienced a long-term disease, it can be frustrating because it seems to take so much longer than the average person to recover. 

On FB, I have seen postings through bone marrow donor/survivor sites that patients have made stating their continued struggles after a year or two of transplant.  Many return to work, even full-time, and I wonder how they do it?  I know each person's experience is their own and no two people share the same experience when it comes to transplant, but sometimes I feel as though I'm lazy or weak.  I really try to motivate myself to move forward and keep fighting but its like my body doesn't want to follow me or try to catch up.  It can be most frustrating.  I wonder will I ever feel 100%???  As I have said in many other blogs, I am quite a stubborn person, and I won't give up, but geesh, give me a break. Haha haha  I just want to keep moving forward and not hit those rumble strips.  They're definitely rumple strips and not speed bumps.  Because speed bumps you have a longer length of time between and with rumple strips, you experience quick ups and downs, then things go smoothly for a brief period of time, and then before you know it, your hitting those rumble strips again.  So, that is where I am know.  I'm driving over those rumble strips and I'm looking forward to the smooth driving.  There is no way of knowing how long it will last.  But, hopefully, the period between rumble strips keeps getting further and further apart.

Here are a few tips for cold/flu season:

1. Optimize your Vitamin D - important for your immune system
2. Avoid Sugar- it cripples your immune system
3. Boost your immunity with "power" foods
4. Get enough sleep - don't be too tired to fight the buggers
5. Exercise regularly
6. Wash your hands - so it won't spread
7. Careful Sneezing - no hands, use a tissue or into your sleeve

(Matys http://www.matyshp.com/blog/Steps-to-prevent-flu-naturally/)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Very Thankful



I am so very THANKFUL for today.  Two years ago, I was spending my Thanksgiving in the hospital, prepping my body for my transplant.  Today, I sit here and reflect on that day.  My husband, children, mom and dad were in Pittsburgh with me. My Thanksgiving lunch was going to be served soon and, with my insistence, everyone went to the hospital cafeteria to eat their meal.  This was the first time in my life that I ate Thanksgiving alone.  I would lie if I didn't say it was a little lonely.  And if I had the choice of whether to experience that alone or with my family, I wouldn't change a thing.  It gave me time to think and reflect on the things that are truly important. And each Thanksgiving that I have celebrated with family and friends makes me appreciate the whole experience so much more.

Knowing what I know now regarding those days before transplant, I am truly BLESSED and THANKFUL for today.  At that time, I either chose to ignore or not really listen to what my preparation was about.  In order to prep my body for transplant, I was required to ingest a 5 day chemo regimen that was considered "lethal".  I really don't remember being told that this chemo was considered "lethal".  I found this out just this past summer.  I really didn't understand how important my fight for survival was.  Sometimes I truly believe "ignorance is bliss".  The less I knew, the better.  Many people, from family, friends, doctors, etc, tell me how much they admire me for my fight.  I have a hard time understanding that, because yes, I had bad days and even now, I have them, I truly don't see the recognition.  The transplant seemed so much easier to me then my first initial diagnosis and months of chemo treatment.   Before my relapse and toward the end of several months of chemo treatment, that is when I wanted to give up.  That's when I felt the most weak and losing my desire to live.  My transplant seemed so much easier.  I'm sure anyone who has had such an experience may feel differently, but for me, that's the reality.

So, as I sit here, this Thanksgiving Day of 2012, I not only reflect, on the past two years, days prior to transplant, but several months before during those wicked months of chemotherapy.  I am so THANKFUL to be here, in this moment, living and breathing, being a wife and mother, a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. 

Not only am I THANKFUL for my own existence, but I'm extremely "THANKFUL" for such a great SUPPORT network of FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!  HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL OF YOU WITH MUCH LOVE!!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More of Life's Whispers





So many things have been going on in my life lately.  My "two-year" re-birthday is just a few days away.  And I have been listening and paying attention to the things that we tend to, unintentionally, ignore. 

Lately, on television, there have been a lot in the news about adults and children with Leukemia and bone marrow stem-cell transplants.  I have been thinking a lot about this, and maybe it's due to my two year anniversary being so close. 

I'm really not even sure what to say or where to begin to express how I'm feeling.  I guess I could describe it as a mix of many different emotions.  From being happy and elated, to questioning and wonder, to being sad and sometimes angry, to going back to being happy and shedding tears of joy.  It's like I feel myself moving forward and something is mentioned about what someone else is going through and it brings it all back.  I begin to experience all those emotions that I went through during those difficult days.  Whatever story is being told on the television, I'm sitting there, watching, and knowing exactly what that person or child is going through.  I can relate to what there experience is.  It saddens me that someone I don't even know is suffering in a similar way.  I sit there and wonder whether they're feeling the same way I had felt.  And during that news broadcast, my thoughts are confirmed.  Yes, they are feeling the same way.

 Robin Roberts, from Good Morning America, had a recent hospitalization after her bone marrow stem-cell transplant, and she had posted on FB how she felt.  She stated about the re-hospitalization taking "an emotional toll" on her.  And I understood what she meant.  I really hope that is her last re-hospitalization and she continues to grow stronger everyday.  I just felt the need to reach out to her and comfort her and let her know she isn't alone in how she is feeling.  It can be frustrating when you feel your making progress than WHAM, you take some steps back.  But that's all about the healing, process, and recovery. 

On the TODAY Show, they had a news piece about a four-year old boy who has undergone FOUR bone marrow stem-cell transplants in 18 months!!!  This little guys "will to live" is AMAZING!!!  During the interview, he stated the times he felt death was near but that he wasn't ready.  He said something similar to knowing it was so close but he just couldn't do it.  And, as I was sitting there watching, and I knew exactly what he was saying.  I experienced that at least, twice.

I can't even describe to you what it feels like when suffering from a life-threatening disease, how easy it is, to just give in and answer those knocks of death, at your life's door.  Sometimes, it feels so easy.  You think, "what if's" and "just maybe's".  At times, it seems like a much better and easier solution.  But when it finally came down to deciding, I wasn't ready.  There were so many other reasons to stay and fight.  Initially, it was for my children and husband, my family and friends.  But, it became even more than that.  It has become so much more.  I feel the need to express exactly what I experienced, what I thought and felt, and even what I am currently going through.  I know I'm just one voice in a crowd of many.  And many of our experiences are different just like each of the one's I mentioned above.  But even though our experiences are different, I believe we feel the same and question the same things.  I want to be a voice and educate others by sharing my experience. 

So with all of these news broadcasts regarding similar situations I have experienced, it makes me believe they are one of life's whispers.  Whispers for me to express my thoughts, to write about my experience and journey.  It's also a reminder, not to be too comfortable or complacent.  It's a reminder to embrace life, not take things for granted and know that its not necessarily a "happily ever after"...just a "happily right now".  :-)

Just a Reminder...

A Reminder to those couples affected by cancer or some other life-threatening disease.
And to my Husband...Thank You...and I Love You!!!
A friend of mine shared this on FB and it touched me so deeply and I'm so "thankful" for my Husband...
Life is too short....go home from work or wherever and share a simple gesture with the one u love!!!


MARRIED OR NOT, YOU SHOULD READ THIS ...


“When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.
Suddenly I didn’...
t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy. I drove to office…. jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed -dead. My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce.— At least, in the eyes of our son—- I’m a loving husband….

The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.

So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

If you don’t share this, nothing will happen to you.

If you do, you just might save a marriage. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ♥

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My...... "Aha Moment"



As I was sitting in the waiting room yesterday, waiting to be called for my bone marrow biopsy, I was typing a quick blog on my phone as to how I was feeling at that moment.  Nothing was fake about it.  It was all open and raw feelings.  And once my name was called, I was walking down the hallway to the dreaded room.  I realized as I was going through the motions, that these motions I have gone through several times before.  It took me back to that very first day.  It took me back to the day of my very first biopsy.  All the faces were the same.  The man performing the biopsy, his nurse assistant, and my husband and mom by my bedside.  I realized that as I was laying on the bed staring at the lighted ceiling that this is about more than just a biopsy.  It brought back all that I was thinking and "fearing" that very first day, it's a reminder of that very traumatic day.  So as I am laying there being prepped for the procedure, I was able to reflect on the "fears" I had then and the "fears" that I have now.

And I realized my "fear" of this ongoing repetition.  I was questioning when this will ever stop. Its a reminder of the worst days of my life.  It's a reminder of what I don't ever want to experience again.  The procedure is not the most comfortable, but it's actually how I feel afterwards that's the worse.  The tiredness and the nausea and vomiting.  Not being able to feel 100% after a couple of days which is mostly due to the medications that are given to me, minutes before the procedure.  And there is no question, I will not have the procedure done without medications.  Like I have said before, a bone marrow biopsy without medication is excruciating.

So when does this change?  When do these feeling and "fears" disappear?  Will it ever get easier? I surely hope so.  Now that I have been able to pinpoint the exact "fears" with the whole process, I can take each one of those and turn them into a positive and know that I am in a different place than I was three years ago.  Many things have changed and they all have been for the better.  So even knowing somethings seem familiar and the same, they're actually not.  My life has changed so much!!!  There are many positive changes.  I'm a healthier and, in a sense, a stronger person.  I have dealt with many speed bumps, hills, and the greatest of all, mountains.  And by climbing that biggest mountain, I can do and climb anything.  I will not let "fear" consume me.  "Fear" can be very toxic and if you allow "fear" to consume you, you will not succeed in what you what to conquer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Anxiety...Out of Control

Sitting here waiting for my name to be called for my bone marrow biopsy...first I hear my name to have my blood drawn...then my name is called for my vitals....now I'm waiting to go back to the room where the procedure will take place...Will it be like it was last time? Will I be sick for a couple of days? Why is my experience always so bad or difficult? Other people who have had bone marrow biopsies, do they feel the same? Have their experiences been just as traumatizing? If not, why is mine so different?
Right now, I feel as if every cell in my body is going 100 mph and ricocheting off one another. My hands are shaking slightly and I can't seem to stop tapping my foot.  I really tried coming into this with more of a positive mind set but the closer I got, the more reality settled in. I know that I'm in control and only I can control how I react but this is overcoming my control.  Will it ever get easier? I surely hope so!!! 
This is as real as it gets.  This is ow I'm feeling at this moment. I'm trying to breathe and control my emotions.  Will report back!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Family and Friends




As my bone marrow biopsy looms around the corner, I think of this past weekend.  There were two celebrations.  The first, and foremost, was the celebration of my husband's 40th Birthday.  I, and a few of his closest friends, planned a surprise birthday party.  It was really a great time and I think he had a really good time!!!  I was so happy to be able to celebrate this milestone with him. His celebration also became my celebration.  Even though this party was solely about my husband, I felt a celebration of myself too.

I was not only celebrating the life of my husband, but my life as well.  I was joyful in knowing that I was able to share this monumental birthday with him and with our family and friends.  There were times that night where I just stood off to the side and soaked it all in.  I looked out over all the people and thought how blessed we are to have such great family and friends.  It was so nice catching up and retelling stories with old friends.  I loved the laughing and the smiling til the point where your cheeks bones ache because your just so happy to "be". And sometimes there were tears.  But the tears began from a reflection of the negative times in our life that has now become positive and optimistic.  I really can't remember a time that I was more happy!!!  Having so many people around supporting my husband, and even me.

I will hang on to that euphoric feeling as I face my day on Tuesday.  I will remember all those smiles.  I will remember all those celebrations to help me through my biopsy.

I'm really not aware of anyone else's experience with bone marrow biopsies.  My experiences have not been great.  My first one was horrible and painful because I was not allowed any medication.  And all the ones following, even though I have been medicated, have not been great either.  The biopsies just have become very traumatic for me but I'm going to try my best this time to take a more positive approach.  I'm still going to have the medication, but I will be remembering those special women who will be praying for me that morning.  I will envision all those smiling faces from my husband's party and, know that, even though they were there for him, they are there for me too.  It gives a person such strength to be blessed with such wonderful family and friends!!! I will feed from that strength of support and face my day with less worry.  I truly believe there is "strength in numbers".  And that doesn't necessarily mean in the physical aspect of people joining together, but in the knowledge of knowing the number of people in my life waiting in the background with genuine support through the testings that I still need to have to monitor my transplant and remission.

Thank you everyone for your friendship and support!!!




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"I've never seen him. I've never heard his voice," she said, "but I'm just so excited to look into his eyes, to look into his soul, and tell him, 'Thank you.' - Erika Turner, gma.yahoo.com





I saw this on the "Good Morning America" website and it had me thinking.  I became so emotional when Erika stated, she wanted to "look into his soul and tell him "thank you".  I actually cried because I would like that opportunity.  I am so excited that my two year anniversary is around the corner.  I'm so excited to know that I can make contact with my donor.  I'm excited to know so much more about her.  I want to know her likes, her dislikes, what are her favorite foods and her least favorite.  What does she look like?  How is she built?  Is she similar to me or is she very different?  I know that she is within a year or two of my age.  I know that she is European.  But that is all.  I have underwent many physical changes externally and internally, I wonder how much of it is because of just cancer and chemo itself and I wonder how much of it is because of the new blood, her blood, flowing through me.  It could be a combination of both, but I want to know and learn more.

As I stated in an earlier blog, most international donors are "expected" to be a donor in one form or another.  Where as, in the United States, its more of a matter of "choice".  So, will this affect her decision?  Will she think its just something you do and there really is no great act involved.  Will she rather just not know who or where she donated?  Will she choose that its better not knowing, because its something someone just does? Will it personalize too much for her?

The whole process of cancer and transplant has been a long journey and a journey that still is continuing.  There is much processing and healing and discovery. For me, part of that process and healing, would be corresponding with or meeting my donor.  It's just another step toward discovering this new version of me. 

It's a very personal experience, because it really isn't just your own body.  Its really just a vessel holding all new blood and life.  Sure much is the same, but to know that the blood that flows through your body is no longer yours.  Its someone else's and whatever their blood type, is yours now.  I'm thankful to know that hasn't changed.  My donor and I share the same blood type. So that is a comfort to me.  It helps make me feel more like the old me. But what are those differences and how do they affect me?

Being able to place a face to the donor, I think, will be more personal.  It will be easier to identify with and process, make it more complete. It could be a beginning to a whole new friendship/relationshop.  I'm very anxious to find out and all I can do is HOPE that she wants it just as much as I do.

Please check out link below regarding, Erika meeting her donor for the first time....
http://news.yahoo.com/video#video=30351576

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Giving Thanks...





This is the time of year where many of us "give or show" what we are "thankful" for. 

Many of my friends on FB are listing what they are thankful for each day of this month.  I love that idea but I have trouble narrowing it down to a daily thing.  As you may have noticed with most of my blogs, I tend to become very emotional or passionate in my thoughts which leads to a lengthy blog.  Hahaha!!!  I laugh at that because that's just typical me.  My closest friends and family know that about me and just learn to go with the flow, which makes me so thankful to have them in my life!!!  I can't narrow it down to single individuals.  There are so many people I am thankful for, especially over these past few years.  Of course my closest family and my small intimate group of friends know how much I love and appreciate them and how grateful I am for them being a part of my life and being such a great support network for Isaac and the kids during this past few years.  I can't put into enough words how much that means to me and how deeply it has touched my heart.

But I also want to thank all those acquaintenances, all those old school friends, all those neighbors through out the years, past co-workers & bosses, friends of the family that have touched my life over the years, and even to the faceless names that have kept me on prayer lists and made donations to my family, to help ease the burdens that had fallen upon us.

It's so easy to get caught up in the negative things that happen in life.  Watching the TV news channels definitely confirms that statement.  The media definitely provides alot of the more dim things that occur in life.  Sure, they have a few news pieces that may lighten the spirit but mostly its involving assaults/attempted-murders, burglary, alcohol/drug-related activities, homicides, scams and war. Especially, now with the presidential campagin, there is so much slander it's really unbelievable.  We as a society, I think, tend to overlook the fact that there really are "good" people out there.  I'm so happy and grateful to know that I have seen the good.  I have received those selfless acts of love and support and of giving.

Which leads me to what I'm most thankful for.  I'm so thankful for my donor.  The selfless act of giving a portion of herself to allow another faceless, nameless person to have another chance at Life.  She gave me the chance to wake up and face another day with the sun shining on my face, or the rain and snow falling around me or the wind whispering its secrets in my ear.  She gave me the chance to watch my children sleeping peacefully in their beds or next to me in mine.  She gave me the chance to listen to their laughter, to dry their tears, to wrap them in my arms, for no apparent reason, but to just love.  She gave me the chance to be a wife and be a support to one of the most selfless men I know.  She gave me the chance to continue to be surrounded with amazing family and friends where we share birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions.  Obviously, I could go on and on, and its so hard to put into words, but the gift of "life" that she has given me, means everything to me. 

I am truly "grateful and thankful" and at peace with all that I have endured in my life, even the cancer.  The cancer has changed me and how I look at myself, my surroundings, and my reaction to those surroundings.  It has made truly appreciate this gift of "life" and not to take anything for granted.  We must appreciate all that we do have and embrace it.  It means to embrace the wealth we are given.  Wealth doesn't just involve money or materialistic things, it includes love, compassion and acceptance of the things around you.  It means embracing the things you do have and living life to the fullest with good will and without malice. 

So, this year, I am "thankful" for many things, but most of all, I am thankful for my donor.  If it weren't for her act of giving, I would not be here to enjoy this holiday season with my husband, children, family and friends!!! 

So, from across the seas, I say to my donor,..."I send my love and a huge "THANK YOU"!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Exhaustion



Wham!!!  It has hit me again!!!  I knew it was coming.  My past week and a half has been pretty busy.  A friend of mine is having me work one or two days for her, not only because she needs some temporary help, but also to help get me out of the house and get back into the "land of the living".  And, as much as I do appreciate this, it's definitely using a lot of energy.  I'm definitely not complaining because this is something I need to do.  I need to re-acclimate myself back into a more active lifestyle, not only for my sanity but for my health.  Research has shown that your body is more healthy when living a more active lifestyle than a sedentary lifestyle.  And, let's face it, my life at home was very sedentary and monotonous.  I can't even believe I'm going to say this, but I needed to slow down on the Kindle usage.  It got so bad that I was reading at least two or three books a day.   Yep, I know, what the heck???  Hahaha!!!  Can you believe that the past week I haven't read on my Kindle once.  I'm definitely going through withdrawal.

But, to get back to the point, I had stated in one of my earlier blogs about stressing over the next couple of weeks because of what is going on and how hectic its going to be.  And, I'm happy to say, I survived that first week.  I made it through.  Yes, I was tired, but I did survive it.  It will get better and I just need to condition my body and mind for a more active lifestyle.  But, I also need to know when to say when and know when to ask for help.

I finally broke down and allowed myself to ask for help around the house.  I live in a very old home with 10 foot ceilings and steep stairways.  Doing housework can be difficult and my house keeping is not what it used to be.  My mom graciously has helped me around the house which has relieved some of the burden from mine and Isaac's shoulders.  I am so thankful for that. I know life isn't going to end if the laundry isn't put away right at the moment its folded, and does it really matter if that "dust bunny" in the corner has made a few more friends?  Hahaha!!!  I know it will get done, at some point, and its not anything that is affecting our health, so what will be ...will be.

I have a few things to do today, but I am going to go at my pace and do a bit at a time and regain my strength for the weeks ahead. The boys are hunting and I'm going to enjoy this weekend with my baby girl, snuggling while watching tv!!!






Wednesday, October 31, 2012

God's whispers...can you hear Him???



I'm not an overly religious person.  I don't attend church weekly or monthly.  I was raised Catholic and, at times, still adhere to the Catholics prayers and beliefs.  Since my diagnosis, I have questioned many things and my spirituality has been one of them.  When I begin to question things that are going on in my life, it's like I hear whispers.  And I'm not talking about actually hearing someone whisper to me, but having a fleeting thought or something out of the ordinary happens.  Most of the time, a thought goes through my mind and I quickly dismiss it and move on to whatever I'm doing.  Then maybe a few hours, days or even months later, that thought resurfaces with an experience that I just had.  I begin to question why this is familiar and then I realize that I've thought of it before once, twice or a few other times. 

I was reminded of this today while I was at work.  Some of the ladies that come in are aware of my circumstances.  There are some that are not aware but hear me discussing my current health with these other ladies.  After my conversation, I have some of these ladies, who are not familiar with my circumstances, approach me and ask questions.  They are sincerely interested and offer their blessings.

This one woman approached me and stated she overheard me speaking about some testing I'm going to have in a few weeks.  She asked if I could explain more.  I informed her of my diagnosis, going into remission, my relapse, then my transplant.  I explained that I would be having a bone marrow biopsy in a couple weeks.  She asked if I could give her the specific dates of my biopsy and doctor's appointment.  I gave her the dates and she stated that she will pray for me on those specific dates and she will let her sister know as well.  This really touched me and, even as I'm typing this now, is making me tear up.  I can't express to you how that made me feel.  It's going to make that very stressful day a bit easier knowing that a woman that I don't even know, will be praying for me that morning.  It gives me so much strength to know that. 

While we were talking, she shared personal information about herself and her family.  She is a survivor of cervical cancer, her husband passed away due to cancer, and her sister has been fighting cancer.  We were able to connect on a level that I haven't been able to with anyone.  I wish I could explain this deep, intimate connection her and I had.  I really believe this was one of God's whispers letting me know that I'm not alone.  He gave me comfort through someone else who has been through a similar experience. 

Over the summer, a friend of mine stated she was listening to Oprah on her satellite radio.  And she stated that Oprah had spoken about God's whispers.  Oprah stated that he sends us these whispers to guide us to where we want to be.  It made so much sense because at the time, my friend and I were speaking of my career, and what it is I want to do.  So we focused on that issue.  But, after today, I realized those whispers are about anything in our life, whether its trying to decide which career path to take, or to ease the mind and body about something that may be causing stress. 

So in closing, I truly believe, God has carried me when I've been too weak from the chemo and cancer, he walks beside me to keep me company when I feel alone, and he whispers to me, to keep me going and to not give up.  I will believe, I will hope, and I know I'm not alone in this journey!!!

Image source: http://xatigirl.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/god-whispers.jpg

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coincidence??? Maybe!?!?!


I saw a posting on my FB "news feed" page.  And it really struck me and made me begin to think about my transplant and the process that took place.  They say a sibling is one of the best ways to find a match.  The process began with finding whether my brother was a match or not.  Unfortunately, in my case, my brother was not a match.  So, my doctor and the transplant team, began the search for a donor within the United States.  At the time, we were told that out of 4 million donors, in the United States, not one person was a match.  This was very disheartening to hear and we began to worry about what this would mean.  Does this mean my days are numbered?  Do I need to make peace with myself, my husband and children, my family and friends and with God?

This was a very scary time, but we were given the hope that there may be someone out there beyond the United States.  My doctor and transplant team began the search outside of the U.S.  We were notified that two donors have been found and both are of European origin.  Furthermore, we were told that these two donors were 100% matches!!!  It's really amazing to think that there are, at least, two individuals out there in this world, that identically match my marrow.  At the time, my mom made the statement about whether it could be a person who is in some way a distant relative.  After she made the statement, I really hadn't thought about it or have even discussed it with anyone.  But after seeing this posting today, I began to think more about it.

How amazing this could be!!!  I'm very lucky to be able to know that my mom is 100% Slovak (ancestors from Czechoslovakia) and my dad is 100% French.  Could it be that my donor or donors could be a distant relative?  My mom's great-grandgrandparents immigrated from Czechoslovakia more recently than my dad's family.  Could it be that one of my donor's could be Slovakian, or could it just possibly be someone from my French heritage? 

One of the things that I love about my website is the ability I have to see, in the world, who is accessing my website.  The majority of the hits, outside of the U.S., are Russia, France and Germany.  Could my donor be one of these individuals?  Or even better, could my donor be a distant relative?  I'm so excited to further explore this. 

I won't be able to further look into this until my two year transplant anniversary, which is just a month away.  At that time, if I choose, I am able to make contact and write to my donor.  It is then up to my donor whether they want to respond or not.  I am really hoping that this individual would like to make contact, not only so I can "thank" her for her precious gift of life, but so I can also see if she and I may have some ancestral connection.

One thing I learned is that there is a difference between donors in the United States and international donors.  We were told that most European countries expect their populations to be donors in some form.  It is expected of them to do this and looked upon as something you do.  Where as in the U.S., it is more of a matter of choice than expected.  So, this may become a factor when trying to make contact with my donor.

I am hoping and praying that she does want to communicate with me.  Either way, whether she does or doesn't, I am extremely grateful, to both women, for this unselfish gift of giving another human being the chance at life. 

So, if you are reading this from across the seas, and you are a bone marrow donor, you may just be the one that has given me another chance at life.  A chance to remain a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, and a friend to those around me.  Words cannot express enough, the gratitude I have!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Day at a Time....




"Each day that you conquer take it as a day of triumph.  On the tough days, use it to refuel you with strength.  Remember everything that is important to you and your life and use it to remind yourself why you fight.  One day at a time.  You can do it!!!

                                                                               - Ann, BMTSCTClub.com

Image source:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Rebirth...the Evolution of My "New" Self

I have stumbled and bled and felt so much pain during my rebirth into the woman I am and I've grown and learned and become strong like a tempered blade and not a single part of him is left in my being.
I have become something new and different and I'm still evolving.
~Zoe Tipsword


Yes...its true.  "I have become something new and different and I'm still evolving".

A  big portion of me died on November 30, 2010, and while a portion of me died, that portion was "reborn".  Its almost seems like a reincarnation.

I came to the discovery at my therapy session a few days ago.  My therapist and I were speaking about the transplant process and how similar transplant recipients feel afterwards.  I was speaking on how I thought it would be easier if my transplant was something more tangible like an organ rather than blood that touches everything within me.  She gave an example of a woman that she counsels who had a heart transplant and how the woman is very grateful for this gift of another's heart, but every time she feels its beat, it feels as though its fully not her own.  The woman has said that this heart was meant for that donor.  That donor was born to have that heart and when they passed it became her's but it was difficult to grasp that.  So, it definitely confirmed that I'm not the only one that feels this way.  And that no matter what form of transplant it may be, close to every transplant recipient may feel exactly this way.

So what do we do with this rebirth.  I used to get so angry when the doctors, hospital staff, even my family would say that I have a new birthday now.  I was like, "No, my birthday is in December...that is my actual birthday...I refuse to accept my stem-cell transplant as my new birthday...that is ridiculous".  But now I get it, at least I think I do.  It's not so much my new birthday as physically entering the world.  That, of course, will always be December 26th.  But it's like a spiritual rebirth occurred on November 30th.  An internal rebirth.  I get it now.  I can accept it now.  And actually, I'm quite excited by it now.   Does it mean I get two birthdays!!!  Hahaha...wink wink!!!

Seriously, though, I am excited about this rebirth.  Like I've said in other blogs, there are so many possibilities that lie ahead.  I'm so excited to see what they are.  It's almost like I'm "Alice" from "Alice in Wonderland" and I'm in that long corridor with all those doors and I can have my choice of any of them.  If it happens to be one that doesn't fit then I have other choices and discoveries, some may be good and some may be bad.  And that's actually okay.  Because everything is a lesson in life.  We, as human beings, have a reaction to everything.  It's up to us to decide how we react to those things. 

This self-discovery is so exhilarating and so addicting.  It may be very frustrating for my husband and family and even friends, but this is real.  This is real emotion, open and raw, that won't change.  I'm not going to fight how I'm feeling.  I'm just going to let it out there because its the easiest way for me to process this evolution of my self.

So what's next in this evolution of my self-discovery?  Who knows? I'm definitely going to blog about this evolution of self-discovery which could happen again tonight, or tomorrow or in a few days.  I'm really excited to see where this leads!!!  Which door am I going to choose? 

Image source: http://nice-cool-pics.com/data/media/22/rebirth__bhikkhu_bodhi_.jpg

Friday, October 26, 2012

You Picked the Wrong Girl......Grrrrrrrr!!!!




As much as I hate to admit this, let's face it, we all have our weak moments. 

I'm sitting here thinking about this past week and the next few weeks to come.  I have been very busy lately and it has definitely been zapping some of my energy.  But I keep telling myself I need to keep going!!!  I have so much planned these next couple weeks and I can't stop now.  There are two things that are "big" that I am worrying about.  The biggest one is the one I want to talk about now.  It's like I described in an earlier post.  Sometimes, its like I feel this big storm cloud hovering over me, and other times its like I'm cramped in a small dark place and I'm wondering if I will be able to break out.  It's not every day, but it appears every so often and the closer it gets to that dreaded day I'm thinking about, the more I feel the weight of the storm and darkness.

Yes, I know I have said it before, there is no point wasting energy on something you can't control, but I have those weak moments, and I'm just scared.  My bone marrow biopsy will be occurring in a few weeks and I can't seem to stop thinking about it.  First of all, it hurts like hell.  The first time I had it done, I had no medicine at all.  I really wanted to die!!!  Truly, I did, just ask my mom and husband who were there to witness it.  I never felt such pain in my entire life.  Secondly, the last time I had it done was 6 months ago and I was sick for days afterwards.  I'm not sure if they messed up my medication but I felt like crap for days.  It really did a number on me.  So, not only am I worrying about the pain, discomfort and possible sickness, I worry about the outcome.  This is where my "relapse" haunts me the most. 

I really am trying not to worry constantly about it.  I keep trying to tell myself things are better and the outlook has been great and the doctors have been very pleased with how well I have been doing, which according to them, say that I have done exceptionally well when compared to others.  So this does give me a boost of confidence, but not 100% because that little bit of doubt does creep in. 

I wish I could make it stop, and I'm sure it will someday.  I am getting better and it will take some time.  The "relapse" really came as quite a SHOCK.  I'm not sure if I can go through that again.  Maybe I'm stronger than what I give my self credit for, but I am only human, and can't always remain strong.  I will try my best, because like I said before, I'm stubborn and I want to be in charge.  So I guess I just need to keep saying it over and over again...I'M IN CHARGE....I'M IN CHARGE....I'M IN CHARGE!!! CANCER BACK THE EFF OFF!!!  Hahaha , that actually felt pretty good... just thinking and typing it just made me feel a wee bit better...Hahaha!!!

Well, I guess that's just what I'm going to have to do.  Once I begin to feel that worry or doubt, I need to turn it into anger and fight it!!!  No way is cancer going to take control of me!!!  I will not let you win!!!  I will remain in REMISSION!!!  You picked the wrong girl!!!

Image source: http://liz-green.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/grrrrr_main-300x184.png

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Whenever you are stressed or worried or uneasy, take a nice long walk in the nature, touch the ground with your feet, touch the trees with your hands, and the Divine nature of life will flow into you to ease your pain." - God want You to Know, FB



I received this message on FB and it made me reflect a lot on what I went through these past few years and even currently. 

Due to my suppressed immune system, then and now, things such as taking a walk, smelling the flowers, and just enjoying nature, are things that I need to be very cautious and careful with how much I'm exposed too. 

While I was in the hospital, the doctors allowed the patients outside, but we had to wear masks anytime we left the filtered rooms.  It was always such a treat to be outside.  I really enjoyed those days.  But there was still something missing.  I really couldn't fully enjoy looking toward the sky and have the sun beat down on my face.  I couldn't inhale the warm, summer air, or the cool, crisp temperatures of Fall.  It was times, like those, that I realized that I really didn't fully appreciate the things around me, such as nature.  Sure I loved the sights and smells and closed my eyes and soaked it in, but I never truly embraced it for what it was and is.  Oh, how I miss those days!!!

This evening, I have been reminded of that fact.  Fall is my favorite season.  I love the colors, the smells, and the cool, crisp weather.  We have a huge tree in our backyard and we definitely have to rake the yard a few times before winter sets in.  Tonight was one of those nights.  But, unfortunately, I'm stuck inside.  I'm watching through a window while my husband and children get to enjoy the piles of leaves, running through them, burying themselves in them and tossing them in the air.  It's a mix of emotions, happy, of course, that I'm even here to be able to watch them, but sad, because I question will I ever be able to be that free again???

So take this moment to embrace those things that sometimes we take for granted.  The next time you step outside and inhale the fresh air, or the next time you take a walk, or even, the next time you can just tilt your head back and soak up the sun, just remember what a privilege it is and embrace it!!!