The Cancer Diaries 2010-09-08 04:15:00

Lying in bed right now, trying to rest my body, my mind, my soul. Tomorrow is the first day of school. It's a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand, I'm genuinely excited to be going back (yes, you read that correct). I haven't seen a lot of my friends in a while, so it's something that I'm actually looking forward to. Last term, I dropped out of school to stay at home and help take care of my mom. There was no questioning my decision and I am so glad that I did it, even if it meant that I would be graduating a term later (in the grand scheme of things, this is a teensy weensy blip on my radar). To me, going back to school just wouldn't have been right, especially when *we* (I highlight this because we all faced the challenges TOGETHER, as one) were diagnosed just days earlier. My decision to stay meant that I would be out of school for almost nine months. To put that into perspective, I have never taken that long of a break from school since before kindergarten! So, I am happy to be back, not only because I get to see some great familiar faces again, but also because it means there will be a sense of normalcy again. In a day and age where people strive so hard to be different, I pray to be the same. In this sense at least. But the experience also leaves a bitter taste in my mouth because, while I am here trying to be happy that I am back at school, my mom is back at the hospital (3 hours away) recovering from an autologous stem cell transplant, with my dad by her side. I've been with her since the very beginning of this roller coaster journey, through all the ups and downs, the triumphs and struggles. It doesn't feel right to me that I leave her now, at SUCH an important time. The scheduling of the transplant and the start of school was a little shitty. Driving up for school, I felt this resounding sense of guilt inside me the whole three hours. I know I'm not, but it almost feels like a sense of abandonment. On the plus side (because we must always remember that there exists one), ill be driving back down to see her on the weekends at least for the month of september. So, that makes me feel a little better. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want to be by her side and see her through this until she's in the clear. We start together, we finish together. But my dad is there and gives her a surplus of love and attention. her progress so far has been not too bad. I don't think people can heal properly (or at the very least, it is slowed down) when they are in the hospital. The docs let us take mama bear back home for the weekend after the transplant and she did pretty great. Yes, there has been nausea. Yes, there has been vomiting. But it's actually not as bad as we thought it would be. If taken in the correct doses and time, anti-nausea medications can make an enormous difference. Her appetite took a nosedive, but that was expected. Ensure seems to be the only thing that she can tolerate on a consistent basis. It's not the best, but right now, a calorie is a calorie, and we don't have the luxury of being picky and choosy (healthy vs. Not-as-healthy). Today, however, my prayers were acknowledged. I've been praying that God ease us of our pains and struggles and give us strength, give us health, hope, and happiness. But last night I decided to take it a step further and go into specifics, for my mom to get her appetite back, for her nausea to go away, for her to have enough energy to exercise and move around. Well, when I called my dad today to check in and see how things were going, he told me that he was on a food-run for (get this)…. ETHNIC FOOD. Specifically, seaweed and rice hahaha (a korean comfort food, you understand). Before, my mom could barely stomach plain, boring broth. Now she's asking for seaweed and rice!?!? Her appetite MUST be back. Not only that, but she also sounded GREAT on the phone, bright, loud, and full of energy, a typical family trait (emphasis on the loud). She also told me she did four laps around the ward with my dad, so she got her body moving too! (13 laps=1K). So, for any family members reading this post, mom is doing better :) I'm hoping that everything stayed down for the rest of the day. Tomorrow she receives her first G-CSF shot, post-transplant. If you remember, she was given these before transplant to help mobilize her stem cells, so much so that they were pushed out of the bone marrow and into the blood from all the buildup. Well, now that she is post-transplant, that means that her stem cells were completely wiped out (which is why we collected them before to put them back in after) from the chemo. The G-CSF stimulates her small supply of re-introduced stem cells to start producing WBCs, RBCs, etc. I'm not quite sure yet, but I **think** this might mean that she is neutropenic (zero neutrophils aka WBCs). If so, then that means the worst is OVER. Now, the road ahead is just a matter of recovery and rebuilding her strength, health, etc. Did I mention that its also DRUG-FREE!?! Its a great opportunity to really take advantage of, and something that we all look forward to. To only have to focus on healing the body and not have to worry about drugs and side effects? 'Tis a gift and a blessing.

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