one year ago (august 27th) our oldest daughter had her bone marrow transplant.
i can safely speak for every parent when i say that hearing a physician say “your daughter has cancer” and “the treatment’s not working” and “she needs a bone marrow transplant” are under the category of things-you-never-want-to-hear-in-your-life. (and by the way, you don’t wish for anyone else to hear them either)
but we did. and she did. and now it’s a year later. and how did that all happen?
two years ago, life was measured in weeks. she would struggle through the side effects of her medications and we would all wait for the blood tests to see how her numbers were each week. the blood numbers looked good. she felt lousy, had lots of side effects, but the blood numbers looked good. remission type good.
almost a year later she had her follow-up bone marrow biopsy and the numbers were not good. as in the only thing left is a bone marrow transplant not good.
life was measured in months. it took months to find a donor from the registry (her sister and brother were not matches). after three months, a donor was found. (join the registry! http://www.marrow.org/join/index.html?src=tabjoin)
things moved very quickly after that.
L and her husband went to texas for pre-transplant work ups md anderson. i followed a week later. days later she started conditioning chemo. hours ticked by as the team did their work, scheduling her chemo to the hour it should be administered, sticking to each day’s protocol. (amazing the science that’s behind administering chemo, let alone matching a donor to a patient for transplant)
she put on a brave face as hours of agony ticked by. I was a brave witness (reserved the bad emotions for when I was back at the apartment alone)
C flew in on transplant day. we all waited.
we lived life by the minute on transplant day. literally. (if you want to read the details of transplant day, click on the ‘100 days’ page) dr. lee and the nurses monitored L every minute of the first 15 minutes while the infusion of the donor cells began. they continued to monitor her throughout the night.
still raw emotion as i think back now.
transplant day minutes grew to hours in the days after, then days, then weeks, now months and here were are at a year later.
have you ever been to the vietnam war memorial in washington? you’re concentrating on each panel along the way and before you realize it, you’re in the vortex. the panels are taller than you are. keep walking, and before you realize it again, the panels are gone and you’re walking away from the monument.
that’s what this feels like.
recovery has been a tough journey for L, but she’s done everything she could to forge ahead and take good care of herself. her donated immune system continues to be a formidable ally. a year later she’s back in her classroom getting ready to teach elementary school music.
she’s off of most of the meds that helped her body recover. she’s learned to rock climb, raised money for a great young adult cancer survivor organization http://firstdescents.org/
she’s strong and in good spirits and having the good life she deserves with her husband.
yep, what a difference a year makes.