First and foremost is that I do feel that fear and anxiety but I am able to use it as fuel for my fire that works for me rather than a fire that works against me. I am not sure how my mind has stayed as stable as it has through all of this, but I know that for that I am so lucky. Granted, it is extremely crowded with everything that it means to be a cancer patient and I often find myself with no room left for anything else.
I'll have to talk myself through tasks to get them done and multiple times a day I'll find myself in a room looking for something with no idea why I am there. I tend to start things and have a real tough time finishing them, but I am still able to get them done ... just in my own time. My memory has suffered some and extended brain farts are commonplace. However, ask me to explain what blood cells do in the body or the names of all the drugs I've received and I've got the answer within moments. The fact that I feel comfortable and educated with what is happening and what will be happening to my body must give me some kind of leg up. Yes, maybe everything else in my brain suffers, but this is what's important right now.
I have no comorbidities, meaning that besides this damn cancer I am perfectly healthy. I don't have heart problems, no high cholesterol, no breathing issues, no diabetes, no circulation problems, etc. This is all obviously in my favor going into transplant. Because of this fact, my Sloan doctor said that my chances of transplant success are closer to 50%.
Plus, I have to look back and realize that I've already been through two auto transplants, which each included some serious, serious chemotherapy and I came out relatively unscathed. In fact, I was ready to go back to work a month afterward. So far, the only permanent change I've had since then is two perfect white lines across the pink on each of my fingernails. Everything else is still in tact. I haven't lost any limbs nor developed any strange bodily functions. Yes, my endurance has taken a hit, but I think that can be expected after nearly a year-and-a-half of chemotherapy without more than a few week's break.
Physically, I'm still strong. Nothing like I was pre-cancer, but I can get into dancer pose with the best of them, kayak and walk with the rest of them, and still rip up a wedding dance floor as evidenced at my Uncle's wedding this weekend. My body still has a lot of fight in it and with gentle care I believe that I can keep this machine running.
I have a perfect sibling match. Having my sister as a donor creates the most ideal situation. There is so much hope that her cells will easily move in and push the unwanted cancer cells out. Plus, who better to share this experience with?
Then there is my huge support system. Mighty and unbreakable, I have a fortress of love and healing all around me. They're there when things are going well and when they are not and the value of knowing that I have that backing can't be quantified.
This all gives me hope that I will defy the statistics. People do get cured from this and one of those people will be me. It's just taking a little longer and we're having to get a little more creative than originally expected.