Today is December 5, 2012 – my fifth re-birthday.
Five years ago today, I was in a hospital bed wondering if the stem cell transplant would kill me or cure me.
Five years ago today, after seven days of intensive chemotherapy, my energy level and my blood counts were on their way to zero.
Five years ago today, I received my clean stem cells back after having my Cancer-damaged cells annihilated, along with all of the good ones that made up my immune system.
Five years ago today, that first stem cell found its way back into my bone marrow, followed by millions more, and began the regeneration of my immune system.
Five years ago today, although I could not physically walk, I took my first step back into my life.
It is hard to believe that it has been five years. Some days, it seems like five decades, and others like five months.
A LOT has happened in those five years. We did scans and checkups every three months for the first year. EVERY time was a mental strain, always wondering what it would mean if I relapsed yet again. The second year, we did scans and checkups every six months. With every successive checkup, my confidence grew that I may have actually beaten this thing. In the third year, we started annual checkups.
Before every one of these checkups, my mind would wander and send me into a frenzied panic at the potential of another relapse. With every “all clear,” we would have a thankful celebration at Champs Sports Bar. As quickly as the panic would run up leading into a checkup, it would subside with a few tall Coors Lights.
In the early days, the time between checkups felt like bonus time in the old Pole Position video game. As the days progressed from the last checkup, I found my thoughts about my health would fade and it would drop on my list of mental priorities. Eventually, we would enter a window where I would start focusing on the next checkup and it would quickly rise to the top of my mental priorities.
As I achieved more Pole Position bonus time (i.e. bigger windows between checkups), I was able to live more freely for longer periods of time. I took advantage of one of those windows to get engaged, another to get married, and yet another to have a child – a beautiful baby girl. We named her, Ani, after my mom who lost her battle to the very same Cancer that afflicted me. She was born six months ago today, a happening that I do not think is pure coincidence.
At five years, I think I am technically clinically cured. I don’t go for my annual checkup for another couple of months, so I am holding out the formal celebration until then.
At my wedding, I referenced a quote from a movie that helped me when I was at my lowest points in my battle. The quote helped me to pick myself up and to set my mind straight. They are quite simple words, and they still motivate me today. The movie was The Shawshank Redemption, and the quote was “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” In the spirit of these words, I continue to “live” each and every day!
If, by chance, you have come back to this blog for another read, thanks for checking in.