Toronto – March 17, 2013:
Friday marked one month since I had my stem cell transplant and it is not what I had expected. I figured that once I came home, I would be able to reclaim my life with vigour and energy. Instead, I take two long naps a day and then look forward to sleeping again at night. Getting a glass of water makes me tired. Taking a walk around the block guarantees that I will need to sleep for two hours. Eating is exhausting so I eat in small portions.
On the plus side, my oncologist, Dr. Tiedemann, is happy with my progress. His orders are for me to rest and let my body — and bone marrow — heal for two months. He will conduct tests in May to determine the success of the transplant. Since there is no cure currently for Multiple Myeloma, the stem cell transplant, if successful, will keep the cancer at bay for an average of 2.5 years. It is expected that the cancer will come back at some point and I will require a second transplant. In spite of these numbers, I am pretty optimistic. I plan to defy the odds! At the hospital, I met people in the ward who did not require a second transplant for 5 years and longer, so I know it is possible. I also know that God is the ultimate healer and is in charge so I leave my worries to Him. Sometimes I tell Him that I would really like a cure for Myeloma during my lifetime. I visualize him smiling as I put my request somewhat repeatedly to him!
The biggest challenge for me right now is learning to be patient while the recovery is much slower than I would choose, and finding the opportunity in that space between where I am now and where I expect to be. I have found this difficult. My emotions have been all over the place and I have been teary-eyed and sad as I deal with this “new normal”. Part of this is that I am still feeling the effects of the intense chemo that was given to me as part of the transplant. Slowly, things are improving and everyday I am a little bit stronger. I am re-learning that it is okay not to accomplish projects and do something I consider of value every day (I am such a high achiever!). I am learning that napping and sleeping is okay and the best thing for me right now. I am also finding it helpful to connect with individuals who’ve been through the transplant process and to talk about shared experiences, concerns and fears; and to learn from each other.
In the meantime, life goes on. Nagib and I are planning to go to New York in six weeks to celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary and watch the Blue Jays at the new Yankee Stadium! (Remember the bucket list?). I am delivering a workshop on teamwork in April. I hope to start working out once my Hickman Line is removed on March 27th. And, I’m emceeing a wedding in May! These are all baby steps on the road to recovery.
Today, I went to Shoppers Drug Mart and bought a gorgeous purple eyeshadow and beautiful lipsticks to herald the beginning of spring next week. I declare that life is to be lived – no matter what the circumstances!