A call to action. A cry for help. An opportunity for you to realize your power to give strength to someone affected by a blood cancer (Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma). Get involved. Make someone stronger.
Note: Story contributed by Ekata, dedicated to her family and friends.
It’s been about a year and a half since I shared my Heartbroken story. A lot has happened since then.
I became a CFO. We witnessed a miracle in our family, reminding us that miracles are possible. Our dad saved our mom’s life. My sister-in-law was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, underwent surgery and treatment and is progressing well. Our dad’s parkinson’s is progressing quickly. I started a 3-5 day high dose radiation treatment, ended up needing 9 weeks. My brother watches over us all.
I started radiation on my chest region in mid-July, but remission was never part of the conversation. Our goal was to improve my lung function which was severely compromised. The initial 3-5 day treatment was extended to 10 days. When we realized the prolonged high-dose radiation wasn’t going to be sufficient, we further extended treatment with low-dose radiation on my right lung region.
9 weeks. Daily radiation, Monday thru Friday. Weekly transfusions went from weekly to 2-3 times a week if not more. Daily routine tasks became increasingly difficult. Nowadays, my version of exercise is emptying the dishwasher! We had to take a few breaks from radiation when it became too much on the body, rest a day and resume.
Looking back, the past 9 weeks have been rough to say the least, yet Amazing.
I’m physically significantly weaker and completely worn down, yet I have never felt emotionally stronger and more blessed. I’ve spent time with many of my loved ones, family and friends. Sharing laughs, making memories. Serious conversations and silly ones, laughing at things that aren’t remotely funny, that’s how we do. Each relationship uniquely special and irreplaceable.
I learned how to ask for help which is very difficult for me. But I’m so lucky that my family and friends make it seamless for me to ask. Sometimes I didn’t even have to ask because they just knew. Friends and extended family were constantly present, physically and otherwise. Sharing laughs, making memories.
The #BOOM campaign, a surprise that was better than anything we could have imagined as an expression of love and solidarity. Wrapped in a bubble of smiles, giggles, jokes, optimism, support and genuine love. Every time we check Facebook we are reminded of what amazing friends we have and that we are not alone. The overwhelming love and support from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers has been incredible. (Note: If you aren’t familiar with the #BOOM campaign, please check out my FB timeline and you’ll see what I mean.)
We had the best outdoors, end of summer, thank you for being in our life, carefree, lets hangout and party like we did in high school party – Riding Rainbows.
All of this, completely altering the tone and feel of the past several months. Priceless.
We were worried, some of us were scared, but we didn’t lose our focus. How could we, surrounded by so much love, positivity and prayers.
Last week, the radiation treatment came to an end. Unfortunately, despite extending the treatment to 9 weeks, we weren’t able to get rid of all the cancer in this region. I’m also extremely immune-compromised due to the treatment. This comes with strict and not fun rules such as limiting visitors, wearing a mask, no touching or hugging, staying home unless I have to go to the doctor’s or hospital, etc. All with the hope to do our best to make sure I don’t get sick.
We will know in the next few weeks how the lungs are doing, how the body is recovering and figure out where to go from here. We are extremely grateful for the cancer we did get rid of and the memories we made.
A lot has happened since I shared my Heartbroken story a year and a half ago.
I still have my scar from my heartbreak but it has healed beautifully. I have two more similar scars but they aren’t as deep because I was more prepared. The cancer has spread and is very resistant, but I am even more resistant.
Some people consider the winner of battle to be the one who claims the land when the battle is over. But to me, the champion is the one who didn’t lose himself during the battle.
So, no matter what happens, there is no “losing this battle” against cancer. Every day I choose to celebrate life the best I can given my limitations is a win. Every day I chose not to let the cancer consume me or define me is a victory. Every day I smile and make others smile is a success. Every day I try to be the best that I can be, with the humble hope to touch someone’s life or inspire someone, is a triumph. All of these victories outshine whatever the outcome may be.
For now, we rest and get ready for the next #BOOM.
A lot has happened since I shared my Heartbroken story.
We all discovered just how strong we are. How resilient we are. Friends showed us how strong we can be together.
Since March 2013, Make Me Stronger (MMS) volunteers have registered over 1,000 more donors to the bone marrow registry. The MMS family has also raised over $20,000 for different charities.
Collages, courtesy of Charmi Pena, http://www.charmipena.com