About 3-months ago I posted about having the opportunity and honor of meeting someone very special. Over the holidays I was finally able to meet the woman who selflessly joined the Be The Match marrow registry and saved my life.
Usually I’m good at expressing myself through my posts but this experience has left me at a loss for words. So, I made a video instead. I hope you enjoy and join me in my efforts to grow this very important registry.
Hope, strength and healing to all my fellow patients and survivors!
Angels do exist…here’s mine!
I haven’t posted in about 3 months. You see something pretty amazing has happened in these three months. It’s taken me awhile to wrap my head around it and to organize my thoughts.
Today, I want to talk about what I am thankful for this thanksgiving season. I am thankful for the extra time I have been given. I now consider everyday since that night in the E.R. in October 2009, a gift. I do not consider my cancer a curse or a punishment; bad luck…perhaps. A blessing in disguise…most definitely! Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for gaining new perspectives on life without the use of Chemotherapy and Bone Marrow Transplants but I have come to accept that these were the cards that were dealt to me. So, I have two options. I can feel sorry for myself and live the rest of my life asking, “Why me?” Or, I can try to find the good in what has happened over the past 2 years and use those experiences for the good of others. I’ve chosen the latter.
About 3 months ago, I met the newest member of my family. Her name is Ana. About 3 years ago there was a recruitment drive organized at her workplace where she stood in line and joined the national Be The Match bone marrow registry. In May 2010, Ana was notified that she was a possible match to a 25 year old male who was suffering with Leukemia. She went in for further testing and was told in June 2010 that she was a match. On August 16th, 2010 she underwent a procedure called PBSC donation where her Stem Cells were harvested and collected in a bag (similar to blood donation). That bag was then flown to my treatment center where I received them on August 18th, 2010.
I had the privelege of communicating with Ana 1 year post transplant. She emailed me. I read her message while I was at work and I nearly fell out of my chair. I had finally met the person that saved my life! She sent me a slideshow of pictures of her donation process. In one of the pictures she is looking straight into the camera. I felt like she was looking right at me. I felt like I knew her. Her blood runs through my veins afterall. In fact, my blood type transitioned from O+ to A+...Ana’s blood type.
I expressed to her these feelings and that I gained a big-sister because of all of this. My own little sister wasn’t a match for me but Ana, a complete stranger, was my best chance for survival.
In December, I will be traveling to visit her. The details are not worked out yet but I will finally get to meet my hero. What do you say to the person that saved your life?
I want to come up with something where I can show her that her “gift” is being put to good use. I want to demonstrate to her that not only has she saved a life, but she has impacted countless lives. My family. My friends. My co-workers. The patients I work with. Because of her, my parents still have their son. My sister has her big-brother. My best friend still has a friend. My patients have somewhere to turn for hope. The list goes on…
I am beyond thankful for Ana. I am thankful for all that I have gained from the past 2 years. I am thankful that I am still alive and that I have extra-time to enjoy the little things in life. I am thankful that I work with cancer patients every day. I am thankful that I am acheiving “normalcy” everyday. I am thankful that I am returning to school (after 8 years…ahhh!) in January.
To the cancer fighters and survivors reading this: Don’t give up. Keep holding on. I know this is easier said than done but remember that the light at the end of the tunnel get’s closer everyday.
Strength, Healing and Happy Holidays to you all,
Meet my hero:
One year ago today, on August 18th, I was born…again. A total stranger decided to join the national bone marrow registry and because of her selflessness I am alive today. A year post-stem cell transplant I’m feeling good! Words can not express the gratitude I feel in my heart towards the woman who saved my life. Words can not express how thankful I am to be alive. All of the emotions racing through my mind are difficult to convey to you.
Last week, I had my 1yr post-transplant work-up, which meant 9 tubes of blood were drawn, breathing tests and a dreaded bone marrow biopsy. I have to admit, the biopsy wasn’t too bad this time (Thank God for pharmaceuticals…I was pretty ‘high’). I have to admit…I was a little anxious last Thursday. I started reliving some, not so pleasant moments I experienced during treatment. Transplant moments. Moments I never want to live through again.
For a few hours, those “cancer wounds” felt like they re-opened. The cancer wanted to take control again…I don’t think so! I let my tears roll down my cheek, dried them off and walked into clinic with a smile on my face.
I remembered the good that has come out off all of this. The new relationships I’ve made that would have never otherwise happened if it weren’t for my cancer. My appreciation for the little things in life has increased ten fold. Humility, patience, generosity, compassion, love…all virtues that I have learned this past year.
1 year ago I was given a beautiful gift. I’m at a loss for words! :’)
P.S. To all the cancer fighters & caregivers reading this…strength and healing to you all!