"If there were ever a time that I needed a prayer to be heard, now would be it. Mom has cancer."
Immortal words I wrote down when my mother was discharged from the hospital exactly one year ago. It started out two days earlier as a sore throat and, somehow, ended up with cancer. It's absolutely incredible how much can happen in a single year. Your life can change in the blink of an eye. YOU can change. The experiences we have experienced in this last year can be described as nothing short of phenomenal, in both good ways and bad. We've been presented with a very... Hard reality. I don't want to say unfortunate, although in many ways it is, because it implies an unhappy ending to me. But to say this past year has been a struggle would be an understatement. However, a lot of good has come out of our situation as well. Its almost like Pandora's box, where all the evils of the world flew out once opened. But despite all the darkness and malice in the world, there's still a little light, hope. And no matter how big or small that light is, it is enough to be seen in a world of darkness. With hope we gathered strength, and with strength we built resilience and fortitude. Like a bricklayer, we built ourselves up, slowly but surely. This year has taught me many lessons in strength and perseverance, in appreciation and gratitude, and has given a depth to my perception of the world I never knew possible. Though it has been a difficult year, a number of unlikely blessings have revealed themselves, and I am extremely grateful for them. While it would be quite a stretch to say that these experiences have been blessings in disguise, there has been much good that has risen from our ordeal. The end of the year is a time for reflection for many, and this year is no exception. In fact, these last few weeks are more like a reflection of reflections amassed over time, an incredible sum of lessons learned and trials tribulated. And now, here we are. We've come full circle, back to the day where it all started. But the world is not the same, nor are we. As the world turns, life goes on and regardless of what happens, you gotta keep up. You gotta pick them legs up and move, because the world doesn't wait for anyone, and you end up getting left behind in the dust. Although I am only in my early twenties, I feel like an old soul. As traumatic as the last year has been (especially the first 4 months), I have learned more in one year than I have in 21. It's hard to put these experiences into perspective. People just don't understand, unless they, too, have been impacted by the claws of cancer. On one hand, you wish they could understand the depth and magnitude of your pain. But on the other, this is an experience that you would not wish on even your worst of enemies. It's a twisted reality, it is. Everything about cancer is twisted. You get jaded real fast on certain aspects and develop a deep respect and appreciation for others. Why is it when you are threatened with death that life seems so much more beautiful? It's like some sort of sick joke being played. There is still residual trauma that lingers inside from those first few months. Physically, I may have recovered. But mentally, still shell-shocked. Not a day has gone by where I do not think about the mortality of my mother. It is now a dark cursed cloud that follows me everywhere I go. Some days are only slightly overcast, while others, thundershowers. And I know my mother feels the same. I can still see the pain in her eyes, hear the sorrow in her voice. She's pretty good at covering it up, but this son knows his mother well. Overall though, I would have to say that we are all in much better places. Cancer has forced us to make certain lifestyle changes, both physically and mentally, which would benefit anyone regardless of the circumstances. We're completely different people now. You'll have to excuse me if this post seems a bit drawn out, i'm just writing down these words as they come to me.
In the past year, we've faced and overcome a cancer diagnosis, been on several different chemotherapy regimens, started a fundraiser that received world-wide attention, gone through an autologous stem-cell transplant, completely changed our lifestyles in the way we eat, exercise, and think, and so much more. We've come...a very long way, and we still have a long ways to go. But, if we've come this far, we can do anything. Currently, mama bear is on a mix of Velcade, Cyclophosphamide, and Dex to bring the numbers down a little more. We're hovering and debating the addition of Revlimid to her current regimen or the possibility of another transplant. With the news that Revlimid may cause secondary cancers, i'm a little hesitant to have her go on it again. Then again, what kind of chemotherapy doesn't have the risk of secondary cancers? That stuff is poison and meant to shock the system. On the other hand, the very thought of another transplant is exhausting and daunting. Due to overbooked hospitals, I'm pretty sure we've passed the time period that would consider this second one a tandem transplant (and thus, the possibility of higher effectiveness), so i'm a little reluctant to go down that route as well... It's not like these stem cells are an unlimited resource. We've got enough for one, MAYBE two, more transplants. So we have to be smart with our choices. As usual, we must face some tough decisions... In other news, i'm gearing up to start the second half of my fundraiser, Monsters Against Myeloma, so stay tuned for more information. I'm also planning to use this site as a resource for new updates and news in the MM world. Definitely lots of work ahead of us, but it's all stuff that will hopefully help us move forward :)
I'm thankful for what 2010 has taught us, but i'm ready for it to be over. I'm hoping with everything that I have that 2011 brings health and happiness to my loved ones. I've come to realize that the important things in life are the simple things. Now, with everything in my life put into perspective, things seem much more clear. All I could ask for in this life is for my loved ones to be happy, healthy, safe, and strong. Cheers to a (soon-to-be) New Year my friends.