Thursday, December 3, 2009

One year ago - December 3rd, 2008

Exactly one year ago, I learned that I was diagnosed with Leukemia. We didn't know at the time that it was CML, just that my white count was about 20 times what it was supposed to be. I spent some time today re-reading those e-mails from the first few days, and reliving those days. I'm not sure a professional would say that it's healthy or not to relive the darkest days of your life, but I felt it was important to understand where I was when I started this journey. I've always felt it was important to understand where you have been, before charting a course forward.
What sticks with me, was the incredible support and comfort I received from family, friends, co-workers those first few days and continue to this day. Our familes have stepped up to help in any way they can, and as I write this Cynthia's mother and aunt are staying with her, to help with the kids and anything else she needs, while I'm down in Portland. But the greatest impact to my current situation, is Cynthia giving me the space to get myself in a better place, and there when I needed someone to take over when I wasn't up for it. I think we have definately challanged the wedding vow that talked about in sickness and health.
So I ask myself, why even relive those painful moments in my past, and simply let history be ? In my case, it puts in perspective where I am now, and how much has happened since. The sky hasn't fallen, I'm not feeling ill, and Syracuse basketball is playing better than they have since 2003 when they won the National Championship. The point I am trying to make, is that life has continued, even improved in many ways. The arrival of our 2nd boy Alex has allowed us to rekindle the memories of lack of sleep and being thrown up on constantly. Christian at age 3 is allowing us to rediscover wonders all around us. Many times I wish I could see life as he sees it, I imagine that things are simple, and there is no fear in life (other than the monster in his room at times). But even then we overcome the monster by hiding under his Thomas blanket…We hide together, and we tell the monster to ‘go away’.
I’m feeling very educated about CML, since I have spent countless hours diving into as much information as I could gather. It’s difficult sometimes, since it’s not like I can buy a CML for dummies book at Amazon, or take at course to learn about this.  But knowledge has allowed me to take an active role in my treatment, and also be able to communicate with my doctor when needed.  I decided that I’m not settling on simply following the prescribed treatment, and being in the trial was due to reaching out and learning about other options. If it wasn’t for the trial drug, I would literally be in the midst of a transplant these days since that would be my only option. I have networked with other CML patients, and both found comfort in their stories, and in some case grief when the outcome was not positive. While Tyler is doing good, there are other friends who are worse off, so I don’t feel I can rest until we’re all out of the woods.
So I ask myself, where am I today ? Well, physically I am sitting down in Portland, part of the Ariad drug trial. I’m feeling great, and I’m anxiously waiting to see if the drug is working as hoped for. Compared to 3 or 6 months ago, I’m actually in a better place in that we now know that the first 2 generations of drugs, wouldn’t work since I acquired the T315 mutation. But that is all water under the bridge now. My backup plan (which was like Plan E when we started), is a bone marrow transplant, with my younger sister as a perfect match (10/10). I have to sometimes remind myself that I am only 3-4 weeks away from a transplant at any given time, so that I don’t get ahead of myself. One day I imagine I will feel differently, but for now, that is my monster in the room…

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