Okay here I go with my first blog!! Twenty days until the day my stem cell transplant process begins. It happens to be February 14th, Valentine’s Day – couldn’t have a better day to start! I want to kick this off with a quote:
“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”…Viktor Frankl.
There is a lot to fear with a stem cell transplant but I choose not to fear – I choose not to resist the experience but to be with all I do experience. That is part of the reason I wanted to write this blog so I can be aware of my experiences and write about my feelings as I go through the process. I think that each person’s body reacts to the drugs in their own unique way, dependent on many factors that I don’t know that anyone totally understands. Certainly there are physical, mental, emotional and definitely spiritual factors. The point is, why fear what might happen. Sure, I will experience side effects, but who can really say how much, how little or what.
Another thing I want to share is that I don’t believe that having cancer is a war I have to fight – so don’t tell me to ‘keep on fighting’ or ‘fight the good fight’ – that’s not something I want to hear or that will make me feel good. I don’t choose to wage war with it and never have, from day one. I am perhaps, like many other people who have received a cancer diagnosis, or any diagnosis for that matter – once it sunk in and I started to live with it, it became a blessing – meaning that without the diagnosis I may not have learned what I’ve learned about myself in the past 3+ years, and I continue to grow and learn from this odyssey! I feel like I am a better person now than I was then! And more importantly I choose to be at peace with it all, as best I can.
So here is what is going one with me right now, twenty days out. My transplant is at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD and it is part of a trial, directed by my myeloma specialist. So this week I go to Hopkins to have a thorough physical check-up, scans etc. Since I will be staying with my brother and his wife, because they live closer to Hopkins than I do, they will be my caregivers (bless their hearts!) so we will have a training class this week also to learn I- don’t- know- what, but I’m sure it will be a lot. In the meantime, I am shopping for a wig. Yes, right now I can’t see myself walking around bald or wearing a little scarf over my head. I’m not exactly sure when I will lose my hair. There is chemo the first day, but the big dose comes maybe two weeks after and then they say it takes about 2-3 weeks for the hair to start coming out – so perhaps I won’t even need the wig until I am back home – but I like to plan ahead so it is on my to-do list prior to the 14th.
An important fact to know about my condition is that I haven’t had any bone damage from this disease. To look at me you would not know I have a serious disease. My “discomforts” have been totally related to the drugs I’ve taken and generally speaking that has not been bad. I have a good quality of life. When I was first diagnosed I was dealing with a hip problem, which worsened about a year later. We were afraid it was cancer-related but thankfully it was not. So in January 2013 I had a hip replacement and that made a world of difference to me physically. I have always been active and strong and so that new hip gave me such a boost, especially after being fatigued for a while through my initial treatment. I now work with someone who does what she calls neuro-biomechanical therapy and with regular special exercises I have gained strength and stamina as my nerves have regenerated and atrophied muscles have engaged again. I think physical well-being is key to healing and I am so grateful I can do these things.
I think that’s it for today. I probably won’t write every day until the process begins but I’d love to hear from you if you’d care to comment, share or whatever. Peace to you…………Kathy