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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Starting Over Again... Again :)

Occasionally, life gives us a "redo", a chance to start over. Last year I did just that; I nearly died fighting off cancer, and then I started over. I began physical therapy to regain my strength and stamina, I took the pills and supplements, I got back to work, I got back in school, I got back into my "routine". Things were looking good and then... Relapse...

So here I am again, 3 months post transplant, waiting on the results of my recent biopsy, starting over again... again!

We learn by repetition, like listening to our favorite song, we anticipate the next movement, music echoes the refrain, something beautiful transpires. Fighting through this cancer experience again has etched the following lessons deeper into my soul:

Be Grateful

Every day is a blessing. Every problem an opportunity. The following maxim has always impressed me, "I had the blues because I had no shoes, until upon the street I met a man that had no feet." 

Sometimes simple or even silly things are overlooked; shoes, crisp mountain air after a rainstorm, a smile from a stranger, quality toilet paper. There is always something to be grateful for!

I could be bitter that my cancer returned, or I could be grateful that I'm still alive! When I'm feeling particularly unappreciative I think of my amazing wife and son, how can I not be grateful for them?

Be Positive

Positivity doesn't demonstrate naivety, nor does it mean things are not difficult, the key is to find happiness in hardness. 

I'm not just talking about a mindset. Positive thoughts flow from positive actions, if your having a bad day, go do some good! Even if it doesn't cheer you up, it may brighten someone else's day? 

And don't forget, "that which ye do send out shall return unto you again..." It's the law of karma my friends. Let's spread some positive vibes!

Be Yourself

It is not often that life gives you a chance to start over. Although it may be difficult, it is a great opportunity! Ask yourself if what you're doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow, to who you want to be tomorrow. If it's not, why are you doing it?

Alright, enough quotations and cliches let me give an update: I'm now over 100 days post transplant with no signs of GVHD (Graft Versus Host Disease). Some would say this is a good thing, others may worry that the transplant hasn't been aggressive enough. I'm not a fan of worrying so I just try to take things a day at a time. If that gets too stressful, an hour at a time, or even a minute - you get the point :) 

Shortly after my transplant I was on so many medications I used a weekly organizer for just one day! My kidneys were not handling it very well.

In the last three months I've been able to decrease my consumption from 37 to 11 pills a day! That, along with generous hydration, has helped my kidneys recover. My baseball hat collection nearly doubled this Summer but I'm happy to report that my hair is finally growing in. It is much darker, and quite thin and soft, but it's there! 

Last week I had my umpteenth (I stopped counting) bone marrow biopsy. Should this one come back clean, I will begin tapering off my immunosuppressant medication (Tacrolimus). Not only will my immune system become stronger - allowing me to go to church and participate in other regular social endeavors - I will also be able to discontinue my daily magnesium infusions and have my central line removed. I cannot tell you how excited I am to take a shower without a plastic cover over my chest!
For now I'm just trying to smile through life's rainstorms. At least I have a poncho right? Oh, and it doesn't hurt that this photo was taken at the Dave Matthews Band concert either ;)