"You make a living by what you get, and a life by what you give" - Winston Churchill
Five years ago, I could not have imagined I would be writing this today. I had just been diagnosed with acute leukemia, I was starting my first round of chemotherapy and I was sure I was going to die. I had been diagnosed on September 21, 2004, almost seven years to the day of my father's diagnosis, also with leukemia, on September 29, 1997. My father died in just six weeks, and it seemed my fate wouldn't be very different.
The fact that I am writing this today is a miracle. It is a testament to science, to faith, to the skill and care of doctors and nurses, and to my being lucky enough to have a brother who was a match for a bone marrow transplant. After many months of initial chemotherapy, supportive care and innumerable tests, I entered Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal, Quebec in early February 2005 for yet more, even more difficult, chemotherapy, and finally on February 17, 2005, my Day Zero, the day of my transplant, the first day of the rest of my life, my big chance.
When my doctors told me it would take me two years to recover, I laughed, I was 49 years old, had been in top physical shape, a type-A personality, and certainly not one to wait two years for recovery. I thought it would be a couple of months, and then I would be as good as new, back to my old life. That is not of course the way it worked, no matter how strong I thought I was, it was a long road back, a day at a time, a small victory at a time. First I was able to leave the hospital, then I was able to walk around the block, then I biked around the block, then I was able to run very slowly, I went back to work part-time, at the beginning every day was a struggle. In the end, hope, effort, faith and sweat prevailed and I am now, five years after, stronger than ever, physically and spiritually.
I realize that I am very much the exception. Almost everyone I know who was sick when I was is neither no longer with us or substantially weakened. When I read other blogs (more about this later), I find many stories that did not end as hoped.
I hope my story will be of help to others.
I also hope you will join me in my plans (more about this later) and celebration of life.