I was just contemplating writing another post or studying for my (ugh) Management Science exam coming up (it sounds as bad as it is) and realized that my last post was almost a MONTH ago! Shame on me *slaps wrist*. So here I am, almost a month later, bringing you all up to speed on what's been going on in our lives.
Since my mom was set free from the transplant ward, things have been quite calm, serene, and almost surreal-like. At least compared to when we were in for the transplant. Looking back, it seems as if we live in an entirely different WORLD now. My mom is like... Superwoman. The rate that she was able to recover exceeded even my own expectations. I knew she had her relatively young age, otherwise very healthy body, etc. on her side, but I was still shocked to hear when I called home one day (within the same week she was discharged) that she was "out for a drive".........BY.HER.SELF!
..umm WHAT?! Her naivety was cute, but DANG! I almost had a baby heart attack when I heard that. She was supposed to be at home resting and recovering, partitioning herself from the outside world and its GERMS. But I guess I couldn't really blame her for wanting to get a little air. Who wouldn't want a little adventure after spending almost two weeks cooped up inside a hospital room? Regardless, my mom was pretty much back to her normal strength and eating habits before she even left the hospital. From what I read and have heard, that can take anywhere from 4-6 months to get back to! And yet mama bear hadn't even been discharged??? We were talking about why we thought she was feeling so great post-transplant and came up with this: Organic vegetables and fruits, elimination of sugars, TONS of water, regular exercise, lots of laughs and smiles, and aloe vera juice PRE-TRANSPLANT(!!!). We had been seeing a naturopath (shhhh) for a little while and he had recommended taking aloe vera juice because it was supposed to help protect and regenerate the digestive tract. As i'm sure many of you know, the digestive tract is probably the part of the body that is hit the hardest - primarily due to the megadose of Melphalan. When your digestive tract goes, so too does your appetite and ability to hold down food and thus, your rate of recovery. My mom was pretty adamant and determined with her aloe-juice-taking and really credits it for why she was able to recover so fast. There were a couple days where she threw up, while we were in the transplant ward. But other than that, she didn't lose any weight (she had actually GAINED a couple pounds within the first week after discharge!). I'm not trying to sell or endorse anything to you guys at all, but I encourage you to do your research on it. If it is the reason why my mom was able to recover so fast, then many, MANY others would be able to benefit from this knowledge as well.
On another note, I had tried to.. well, fatty my mom up before she was admitted in order to offset the weight loss that was associated with the transplant. But apparently, this isn't really a good idea because the weight loss is due to a decrease in MUSCLE mass, not fat. So if you are someone you know is going into transplant, make sure they try to build as much muscle beforehand as possible.
I'm happy to report that mama bear is doing incredibly well :) Everyone is commenting on how good she looks, so that is great! We got back into Church when we were diagnosed (funny how that happens huh?) and really got back in touch with God (as I'm sure many of you can relate). My mom had to miss out on about a month's worth of Church when she was in transplant, and went right back afterwards - and no one noticed a thing! That's how good she looked! We have a couple doctor appointments ahead of us that entail a biopsy and re-staging. We're all a bit nervous... But hoping for the best. What else can you do, right?
Mama Bear and her cub
Friend Thanksgiving :)
With Thanksgiving weekend (here in Canada) just past, i've been able to reflect on what it really means to be thankful for what you have. Having my entire family in one gathering, eating and laughing (truly the BEST that this world has to offer!) - it was just incredible. I'm truly, truly thankful for everything that I have, the people in my life, and the lessons that I have learned. That weekend was definitely one massive moment of reflection. To think that one year ago, we had not yet been diagnosed...and then everything that we have learned since then? It's absolutely staggering, incredible, and humbling. Our journey with cancer has not yet ended, but for now, everything is perfect. Fall, my favourite season, is upon us and i've come to learn that it is essential to live in the moment. So naturally, I got a tattoo! I'd been wanting to get another one for awhile, so what better a time then Thanksgiving?! It says "Vive ut vivas", which means "Live so that you may live" in Latin. I thought it was fitting :)
Some Fall pictures on campus :)
So basically, that's pretty much you being up to speed :) My brother and I are currently back in school, and my parents are back home doing their thing. And i'm so very grateful to have such a simple luxury like that. I will admit, once everything was back to "normal", I felt this great pressure to do something amazing and life-changing. Coming from an experience like cancer and a stem-cell transplant, with all the lessons you learn and perspective you gain, I felt like going back to the ho-hum days of school weren't worthy of my newfound outlook. But i've come to realize that this "ho-hum" normality is exactly what we've been fighting so VERY hard to regain. This lifestyle, this ability to be somewhat "normal" again, really is a luxury, it is not a right. These lessons that i've learned, they are something that I am extremely grateful for, things that I will carry in my pocket for the rest of my life, wherever I go. This year has, undoubtedly, been the hardest year of my life. But it's also been the greatest (not ... "happy"-greatest, but more along the lines of "epic"-greatest, if that makes any sense). I feel like i've just returned from some grand adventure, a lifetime's worth of sorrow, gratitude, and wisdom on my back. I'm a changed person. We are changed people. And even though I know our adventure isn't over, I do know that if we were able to survive (and pass with flying colors!) the last 9 months, we're capable of overcoming anything set before us. And so are you. Never forget that! YOU can get THROUGH this! And if you ever need someone, know that I will always be here for you.