Monday, February 1, 2010

And now I am one year old

Saturday was my re-birthday. It was a year from my transplant. I was one year old.

People have different names for the new birthday. Re-birthday sounds fine to me.

I've had enough re-birthdays already. Sept. 18 marked my autologous transplant (using my own stem cells.) I had three re-birthdays on that day. I didn't get past six months with my first two allogenic transplants (10/15/07) and 6/9/08).

This last time (1/30/09) I had a new donor and a new start. I was so worried about the 6-month "jinx," and now I have finally made it to a year. Next week I get all my vaccinations. Woo-hoo! I will send my personal information to my new donor soon. First we will write, and eventually meet. I sent a few anonymous letters to my first donor, thanking him for his generosity. I don't think there's a reason to go further.

I am happy to be here. I have let my guard down a little. I have made so much progress in a year. Time does really help. But the "re-birthday" is complicated after you've relapsed.

There was so much hope, and so many disappointments, and such sickness. I know a little too much about all the things that can go wrong. And as much as being a year out allows me to look ahead more easily, it also sends me looking back with regret.

You gave to find the line between knowing it's normal to have a range of negative feelings. but not dwelling on them. When my father was in his eighties and not feeling well, if you asked him how he felt, he said, "Can't complain."

Last week I needed some blood work at the office of my local doctor. I guess I was complaining. I said that in 2007 I was more than three years out and feeling great, and then, poof, back to square one.

Well, he said, you can't get to three years until you get past one.

Interesting thought. I guess I'm on my way.


PJ said...

With all those extra birthday, you might be a little older than your true age. Do you care? You're here, and that's what counts!

I like the way you describe the past year's events, rather like a journalist writing The Year in Review.

Two more responses to "how are you?" by older people with various chronic illnesses:
"what's the sense in kickin'"


Anonymous said...

You are really!!


Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Happy re-birthday. It's a wonderful milestone, even if a variety of uncomfortable and confusing emotions accompany the celebrating.

I have not undergone sct, but during the first nine years of my survivorship I had 7 recurrences. So the notion of "so much hope, so many disappointments" is not theoretical for me.

My usual response to "How are you?" is similar to your father's: I answer, "I have no complaints."

After 19 years of survivorship, and now two years into my latest remission, I've totally let go of the guessing game about tomorrow. I simply don't wonder about "if" or "how long" or "when." Because I can't know the answer today.

With my planning 2 weddings in the next year, I find myself using my awareness of the uncertainty to get everything set in motion so all will go well even if I'm back in Rx.

Yet at the same time, I am not worrying about tomorrow. Unless something happens to change my daydreams, I am just planning on being fine.

I saw a ziggy comic once that said, "If things look hopeless, maybe you are facing the wrong direction." It's a reminder to me that as a Healthy Survivor, it is best to spend more time looking forward than backward.

with hope, Wendy

susiegb said...

Happy re-birthday Ronnie - well done!

And I just love Wendy's quote - "If things look hopeless, maybe you are facing the wrong direction." I'm going to incorporate that into my life!!

You're on the upward path now - slowly and surely more things will open up for you as you continue getting your strength back ... :)

Nelle said...

I remember the first year when I stopped my radiation. I would nearly panic each time I had any xrays taken or bloodwork. One day it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was wasting my days with worrying. No matter how many I had, it wouldn't matter if they were wasted. I went to a therapist and got help for the fears and they slowly abated. When I developed a different type of cancer, later the fear was much less. I think you have handled things remarkably. I have never relapsed with my original type but have developed other cancers. People are shocked to learn this about me because I am always smiling. Each day I wake feeling so lucky to be here. What I may lack in quantity, I will have in quality. Congratuations on your re-birthday and I wish you many more but most importantly, I wish you peace and joy and quality days.

Meryl said...

Congratulations on your one year!! Make sure to use it as an excuse to celebrate. The issue of looking forward without fear is probably one you just have to continue to struggle with. You continue to be an inspiration.


Diane said...

Congratulations on this wonderful milestone. Each one is a gift. As you have said before, if you spend time today worrying about tomorrow, then you've ruined today... and here you are to celebrate the here and now. So enjoy this cold snowy day and Happy Birthday!

Love, Diane

Tri Mommy said...

Happy Re-Birthday!

Ann said...

Happy re-birthday! Look forward to many years of not looking back. :)

Jonny said...

Okay -- so now you can call yourself a "Born Again Jew"'s when you start speaking in tongues we'll begin to worry.

Mazeltov! Jonny

pamela perkins said...

A Joyous Rebirthday -- or perhaps Renaissance, or rather, ,
that's the day for me! (ever your punster)...

Runder-Woman, Runni-Friend, days to be celebrated! you are always in my heart, -- and thank you for being Ronni, Sister-Friend...


Dennis Pyritz, RN said...

Congratulations and Happy New Year! I am working on improving my blogroll- Cancer Blogs - at Being Cancer Network where your own blog is presently listed. One of the things I want to do is to improve the 800 blog entries, making them more useful for readers.

Check to see if information is correct. Please let me know your specific cancer diagnosis - the medical term. Also the year you were diagnosed and anything else you think is relevant for the listing such as a transplant. If you have written a book or memoir, I can feature it in a special Cancer Book List section. Please include the name of your blog in the email so I can put the information in the correct listing.

It would also really, really help if you could let me know of any cancer blogs that are not on my list. Thanks in advance.

Cancer Blogs I & II has been a very popular (over 8000 visits) and valuable resource for folks. It allows people to view what others with a similar diagnoses have gone through. And it brings additional attention and traffic to survivor’s blogs. It is helping to build a strong, vibrant community of survivors.

Please consider adding Being Cancer Network to your blogroll if you have not already done so. I am now following you on Blogged.

Please see my January 10 post - New Year’s New Face - for additional changes in the website. Wishing you a happy and healthy new year.

Dennis Pyritz, RN
leukemia & transplant survivor

Jen said...

My brother-in-law just had his re-birthday in December! He is having many struggles as well, but it is great to read someone's story to better understand what he's going through. I myself am trying to become a runner, so I say if you can do it, so can I! I'm looking forward to following your blog :)