How appropriate that I gave a presentation on this date of all days on sarcoma?
I cannot believe it is November Twenty-ninth-again...already... Wow. It is, of course, a very awe-inspiring thing, but it still brings back a lot of thoughts and memories. It nearly knocks the breathe out of me, thinking about what happened on this date, 5 years ago (has it really been that long!?!) and the days after it.
The year that changed everything (again), 2002, it fell on the day after Thanksgiving. I had gone through MRIs on Wednesday of that week. Ironically, the day I went in I was only supposed to get them done on my hips and leg and that morning I had a strange feeling in my right arm pit, like I had years before. My Dr. added MRIs of my back into the mix at the last minute.
We all waited anxiously on Friday for the results, having nervously hosted and enjoyed Thanksgiving as a family, to distract our minds and pass the time. Well, then the call came, that no one wants to get, especially with a history like mine, the cancer was back-a third time. This time the worst of all-nestled between some of my most vital organs- my heart, lung, spine and pulmonary artery (somewhat scarily similar to the photo above, which I ironically found on the first page when I typed in 'bad news' for a photo search-kinda gives me goosebumps...).
At some point, we sat down with my amazing doctor to discuss everything. It came down to my body still being weak from transplant, most likely surgery would cause more harm than good (or likely death at this point), I had maxed out on chemo and radiation. And bottom line was, as I learned later on (if you go by statistics, which apparently I do not), NO ONE in the world had ever survived a relapse of my cancer after a stem cell transplant-they had lived a few weeks at most. It just did not happen. (Doctors-"world renowned doctors"-around the world told my doctor to essentially put me on hospice and give up, which he never did either of them.)
I remember asking Dr. Bob how long I had. He said he could not say for sure-a few months? It depended which way the tumor decided to grow first (Askin's tumors usually grow really aggressively).
At that time, it was not like in the movies for me-I did not want to skydive, I did not want to do all that crazy stuff. I wanted family and friends and time. I wanted somehow to leave myself behind but how do you do that? I wrote stuff, I did art, I made up a "If I Die" binder that no one knew about.
But most of all I lived-I really lived life, as they say "to the fullest". I traveled 10 places that December to see family and friends and loved all of it. I looked at the sky and everything around me as if it was the last time and breathed it all in with much thankfulness. Every day was a gift, and still is and I continue to do some of this today.
I know, medically, I'm not supposed to be here. Statistically, I'm the only person EVER to survive the way I did. It's an overwhelming and amazing feeling.
It makes me realize I am here for a reason, or more than one reason. That God has plans for me. I try to use my experience to help others-sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail but I really do try my best. I'm still figuring out every day why I am still here and I love the challenge. I love the living part.
Today, I am thankful for: my life, having 1 huge project, 1 small project and 2 exams between me and a nice break that is much needed to heal my rundown body, family, friends and God!