As the seventh anniversary of my fourth bone marrow transplant approaches, I am haunted by the fear that I will not make it, that it is too good to be true, that something will happen in the next 36 days to hijack it.
Last night I dreamt that I was covered in a rash and that when I went to the doctor he said that meant I had relapsed. He took out needles and syringes. It was going to begin all over again. I was going to lose my hair. I had a 70 percent chance of surviving. I tried to look at this in a positive way, but then I thought of PJ and Ann and Dori who didn't make it, and I thought that could also be me.
It doesn't take much to spark a relapse nightmare these days. For example, I have noticed a couple of my fingernails splitting. I wondered why this was happening because my nails have stayed strong through everything. I dreamt that the nail problem was a sign I was relapsing. In reality, I filed the split ones, and they are OK now.
On Dec. 23, Susan Strother Carrier, who used to blog about leukemia, posted on Facebook, "Just received clean bill of health from oncologist during my annual visit. it's been 8 years since my stem cell transplant. Best present ever!"
I congratulated her and then said my anniversary is coming up too (Jan. 31), but that I am still superstitious about saying it will happen for sure. Maybe that is also the journalist in me. You don't write, "The meeting will take place next Sunday." What if it doesn't? You write, "The meeting is expected to take place..."
I expect that my seventh birthday will arrive. After five years, I was officially cured. Still...
A woman who I met at a party said she had ovarian cancer eight years ago and she does not worry about it coming back. I told her my fear of counting my chickens before they are hatched (sometimes a cliche works). She said she is the opposite. "I don't worry about getting hit by a bus," she said.
Maybe it's because I was hit by a bus so many times. Or because I go to Dana-Farber so often that it is hard to put it out of my mind.
It was good to wake up this morning and realize it was only a dream, but still, difficult to shake it off.