13 July 2016

This is what love looks like

I arrived for my weekly appointment at the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic in Richmond and signed in as I do every week. Then the nurse handed me this envelope.

I froze. It actually took me a few seconds (that felt like minutes) before I actually took the envelope. I went to sit down and wait to be called back for clinic.
Every week I go to the BMT Clinic. They access the sexy port in my chest (I'll spare you a picture), take anywhere from 4 to 34 tubes/bottles of blood and take my vitals. Then I either see one of the four transplant doctors or one of the nurse practitioners. Oh, and I get "repletions" (hate that word) if needed. Magnesium, platelets, blood, etc.
So I'm waiting to be called back for clinic and I can't seem to bring myself to open the letter. I held it. Turned it over and over. Excitement and amazement and guilt and rolling around.
Yes, guilt.
I should have written a letter to my donor before he wrote to me. I should have written a letter to him back in November when I received his amazing, selfless gift that saved my life.
Here's what I know about him.
He's a "young" man from Germany with the same blood type as me. That's it. That's all I get until the records are unsealed. I think it's 3 years for international donors? Be the Match has lots of information on what kind of contact donors can have with recipients.
After what felt like ages, I opened the letter.

Obviously, it's been roughly translated from his German language. But his heart translates beautifully. 
I treasure this. 
YES I could celebrate Christmas with my family.
YES strength has gotten me to this point so far.
YES it has gone well.
Oh, wow. Just wow. 
What he gave me is another chance at life. A whole new life. 
Now, what am I going to do with it?

*I did write him back. I just can't share it.

05 February 2016

Day 82

I am 82 days post my bone marrow transplant. 
I'm still considered in the "dangerous" phase and will continue to be until I get to day 100. I have restrictions on what I can eat (nothing fresh, only processed foods), where I can eat (not out at a restaurant, meals must be prepared at home and by my caregiver), where I can go (not where there are lots of people and I have to wear a mask when I go out in public and I restrict visitors).
Day 100 is the big benchmark my team of doctors talk about the most.  Patients who make it to Day 100 without relapsing have a much better life expectancy than patients who relapse. 
What's my status? So far, so good. 
I'm officially in remission.
There is no evidence of leukemia in my bone marrow or in my blood. 
Yeah, I'm gonna write that again.
There is no evidence of leukemia in my bone marrow or in my blood.
It's hard to believe. I've fought so hard and struggled through so much in the 2 years since being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Especially since August, when the Super Dangerous but Absolutely Necessary chemotherapy pills I had been on began to fail. We switched to another pill, failed. Tried another, failed. 
A bone marrow transplant in November saved my life. 
The recovery has been tough and long. But oh, so worth being cancer free.