December represented a wonderful break from the hospital. It was a time of healing, of socializing, of everything fun (yes, those reindeer horns are really on my head – it’s not a Photoshop trick).
And then came January, and it was back to reality.
We had a clinic appointment with Dr. Tiedemann last week to talk about next steps of my treatment. The decision is for me to have more chemotherapy treatments starting immediately to get rid of the residual cancer that lingers in my body. Each time I feel that I am done with chemo, it creeps up on me again. The chemo will be done weekly until such time that a bed is available for me to have the stem cell transplant.
The good news is that we were able to collect enough stem cells in December for two transplants. This was a huge relief because the stem cell collection process was not successful in October after 9 days of trying. The oncologists recommend collecting stem cells for two transplants just in case the first transplant is not successful or if another transplant is required after a few years.
To facilitate the stem cell process, I will need to get a Hickman line inserted. This involves a half hour surgery where the line is inserted from a small incision on the chest into a large vein near the heart. This procedure is scheduled for January 10th. The stem cells will be transplanted into my body through the Hickman line.
I do not yet have a date for the actual transplant, although it could theoretically happen anytime after the Hickman line is inserted. At the moment, there is a 2 to 8 week waiting list for a bed to be available for transplant patients, so the transplant will likely happen between Jan 24th and the end of February. In the meantime, I will continue weekly chemo treatments.
It’s a strange place to be. On the one hand, I am so close to the completion of my treatment. On the other hand, it feels like a long and winding road. The reality is that it has been an 11 month ordeal. During this time, there have been many miracles, some challenges and a lot of blessings. As I take stock of my life today, I declare that while I would not wish this on anybody, the cancer journey has shown me that we are stronger than we think. It has also taught me about the power of state of mind. Thank you Patrick for sharing this poem with me. It is a timely reminder.
A State of Mind
If you think you are beaten … you are.
If you think that you dare not … you don’t.
If you think that you’d like to win
But feel you can’t
It’s almost a cinch that you won’t.
For out in this world you’ll find
Success begins with a fellow’s will –
It’s all in the State of Mind.
Yes, many a race is lost
Before ever a step is run,
And many a coward fails before his work’s begun.
Think big, and your deeds will rise;
Think small, and you’ll fall behind.
Think that you can, and you will –
For it’s all in the State of Mind.
If you think you’re outclassed … you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to know that you can
Before you ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the bigger or the stronger man,
But sooner or later that fellow who wins
Is the fellow who thinks he can.
-Walter D. Winkle
Note: This poem is generally credited to Walter D. Winkle. The title and words have evolved and changed over time.