I still remember it like yesterday. On August 16th, 2013 I received the call that I had Leukemia. Three months later, I was having a bone marrow transplant. And just as short as those 2 sentences were, is just how fast everything seemed to be happening!
In February 2013, I relocated to Birmingham with my job. Then, six months later, I received my diagnosis. At the time, I couldn’t understand how in the world this could have happened. I just uprooted my family. Most of my life was spent in Atlanta, where my parents still reside. And when this came up, everyone thought I would move back to Atlanta and receive treatment there. But, I didn’t. Although I was scared, confused, numb, and lived in a city with no family and friends… I felt in my heart that I was in the right place for my treatment. I also believe this was the primary reason that my path brought me to Birmingham… So that I could be at UAB.
My treatment consisted of 3 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by the bone marrow transplant. During initial discussions with my doctors on the bone marrow transplant process I was terrified. One- because if I didn’t go through with it, I was assured that the AML would most definitely come back. I was considered high risk. And two- as an African American, finding a suitable donor would take some time. Yet, I still believed. After 3 months of waiting and with only 4 potential donors out of 22 million registered donors (both in the U.S. and internationally) with Be The Match- I received my blessing.
The recovery process for an allogenic transplant has been just that- A PROCESS. I am extremely grateful for the BMT staff. As a patient, it gets frustrating and annoying to have to frequent the clinic so often for various things… ie: lab work, MD visits, sick visits, etc… But never once did I not believe in the team treating me. I truly believe the entire BMT staff wanted to see me win!
I just celebrated my 1 year mark, since transplant. And, even today I’m in the “process” of managing the Graft vs Host Disease. My take on life now is simple. [One day at a time] and I still remind myself that this is a process. When I keep these into perspective, I don’t agonize over my not so great days. And even though there’s always a chance that my Leukemia can come back; I choose not to entertain that notion- because I refuse to live in fear. One thing’s for sure… when you come out on the upper side from having a transplant, you certainly don’t want to waste days with a mind consumed in fear.
If you are reading this and are in need of a transplant or have recently had a transplant- remember: accept however you feel on that day, then start over the next day. Everyone processes things differently- so in your own time, you will be ok.