The past couple of weeks have been exciting — and overwhelming — as we learn about the stem cell mobilization, collection and transplant process which takes place this month. There is a lot of information to take in, people to learn from, questions to ask, countless medications to take, tests to undergo, aggressive chemotherapy to mobilize the cells, neupogen injections to stimulate stem cells, the Quinton and Hickman lines to be surgically inserted into my neck and chest, respectively, etc. etc.
It is a lot to digest and it all started on Monday! I went to the hospital feeling quite nervous and discouraged about the aggressive chemotherapy that they would administer and the side effects from it (I was warned that it would not be pretty — I would be quite sick for two or three days). I asked for a bed (instead of a chair) and if my favorite nurse, Manny, was available to look after me. As we gingerly made our way to Orange Pod, No. 23, we passed occupied chemo rooms – alas, no bed :-( However, as we rounded the corner, we were greeted with a familiar ray of sunshine: Manny!
As soon as Manny saw us, he opened his arms to give Nagib, Sabrina and me a giant bear hug. He told us how excited he was that I was starting the stem cell process to get back to full strength, how lucky I was to be selected for the stem cell transplant (because not everyone is, depending on the severity of their condition) and how today was the first day of the rest of my life. Suddenly, my paradigm shifted and I went from being overwhelmed to being ecstatic.
It took an incredible nurse to offer a different perspective and show me an alternate way of looking at this situation. While it was a long day at the hospital, Manny provided phenomenal, extraordinary care, while making us laugh with his stories and funny quips!
He also gave me a beautiful, silver bracelet that said, “Once you CHOOSE HOPE, anything is possible”. Curiously, I had been reflecting on the the word “hope” for a few days and had discovered something profound. As we go through life, there are many challenges for each one of us. There may be challenges at work and in relationships. There may be questions about life and spirituality. There may be concerns about family and children. Health issues can take up a lot of our time and effort.
We each find different ways to deal with these challenges. It could be having a positive attitude, finding opportunities in difficult situations, turning to prayer, talking to a friend to get another perspective, working through the issue at hand, making choices about where to spend our money and energy, making decisions – good or bad. For me, the key that holds it all together is HOPE.
When there is hope — even a glimmer of it, the human condition finds a way to look for answers to problems. When there is hope, there is a sense of optimism and resourcefulness. When there is hope, it opens us to make choices and decisions. In the absence of hope, there is nothing to look forward to and giving up — and giving in — becomes the natural order of the day. I have experienced this a couple of times in my journey with cancer. So I start each morning, giving thanks for the gift of another day and consciously vow to never give up hope. Realistically, things will turn out according to God’s will.
For me, choosing hope significantly increases one’s chances of success and happiness. So, thank you, Manny!