It was exactly one year ago today, on February 3rd at 4:08 p.m., when I was first diagnosed with cancer. It has been a long, arduous journey. It has come with its share of trials and tribulations , sprinkled with generous amounts of optimism and blessings.
Time is a relative concept. Some days I feel like I have lived with cancer for a very long time; other times, it feels like I was only diagnosed yesterday. What I do know is that I have grown tremendously in the past year. At first, I reacted to the diagnosis with anger, shock and denial. I did not expect to live more than 6 months. It was a tough period that required every ounce of energy and resilience. It took me a good 3 – 4 months to come to a point where I not only accepted the cancer, but chose to embrace it. In the process, I think I have become more human, more patient, even more loving. It has been a transformational experience for my family as well who have gone through their own journey and learning.
Here is a snapshot of this past year, in numbers:
- Number of cancers diagnosed: 2: Multiple Myeloma(Feb 3) Lymphoma (Feb 9)
- Number of cancers in remission: 1 (Lymphoma)
- Number of bone marrow biopsies: 7 (ouch!)
- Number of visits to Emergency Dept.: 7
- Number of days in intensive care: 2
- Number of days spent overnight in hospital: 28
- Number of Chemo treatments for Lymphoma: 6 (every three weeks)
- Number of Chemo treatments for Myeloma: 12 and counting (weekly)
- Number of units of blood transfusions: Too many!
- Number of tests – CT scans, PET scans, Xrays, dental exams, pulmonary function test, MUGA scan, echocardiogram, etc.: More than enough.
- Number of stem cells collected for transplant: 2 million per Kg of weight (Enough for 2 transplants)
- Number of surgeries for Hickman Line, PICC Line and Quinton Line: 4
- Number of wigs purchased: 10 (and counting!)
- Number of hugs, good wishes, prayers & support from family, friends and community: Overwhelming.
- Feeling of being loved: Priceless!
So, Happy Anniversary Cancer! It’s been good knowing you. You obviously had a purpose: to infiltrate my bone marrow and turn my own blood/plasma cells against me. But, we got you figured out. We have a solution: An Autologous Blood Stem Cell Transplant, happening on Valentine’s Day or thereabouts. I look forward to parting ways with you soon. So long! Buh-bye! Adieu! Arrivederci!
I want to live a long, healthy and happy life. So, I need you to leave my body willingly and allow me to live in vitality. Yes, I will take the lessons you’ve taught me and, hopefully, emerge a better person. You have been an exacting teacher. You have taught me the value of time and life. You’ve done your work, Mr. Cancer. Now it’s time to leave….
“…now go, walk out the door, just turn around now ’cause you’re not welcome anymore…Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye, you think I’d crumble, you think I’d lay down and die. Oh no, not I, I will survive, as long as I know how to love, I know I will stay alive. I’ve got all my life to live. I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive. I WILL SURVIVE!”