February, 2010

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Saturday, February 20th, 2010

HAPPY WINTER EVERYONE!!!  For those of you who are not snow lovers, well, you wouldn’t want to be in the DC area right about now!  :)  I, on the other hand, say bring.  it.  on.  We’re due for another storm Monday, but it sounds like a baby storm…only 8 inches or so.  Yah, that’s right…after almost three feet, a few inches seems like nada.  Be prepared for snow pictures!  If you have Facebook, you will recognize many of them.

All is going well here.  My appointment with Dr. Orloff was uneventful.  My counts are excellent.  I got my final polio vaccine, and I requested a bone marrow biopsy.  March will be six months since my last biopsy, plus I’m traveling with Paulina to the Grenadines, and you remember what happened the last time I traveled with her…hahahaha…wow, I have a sick sense of humor.  In case you don’t remember, I was with Paulina when I got sick in Quito, and no, I’m not really getting a biopsy because I’ll be traveling with her soon, but rather because it makes me feel healthy and puts my mind at ease, mostly because of the latter.  :)  I’ve had this strange sensation the past week, and the only way I can think to describe it is that I feel my heart.  Occasionally the beats are irregular.  I’ve had this feeling before, and I know it doesn’t mean the leukemia is back, but it still makes me nervous.  A friend I met through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society relapsed recently after having a transplant from her sister several years ago.  It’s hard to read that and not worry about myself.

When I asked Dr. O for a biopsy, he asked me to remind him when my last one was, and when I replied “October”, he replied “Well, let’s do another one in October, so it’s a year”….to which I replied “I prefer six months”.  He shook his head and said “Jesus”, a small smile forming on his face.  And guess what?  He asked if I would like for Dr. Kales to do it, so I get to see Dr. Kales again!  You all know how special he is to me, and you also probably remember that I prefer him to perform all my biopsies.  Let everyone talk about how I’m the weird patient that requests biopsies!  When I get that “all clear”, it’s a green light to continue dreaming about the future.

And speaking of the future, I am counting the months until Team in Training begins its fall training season.  In the meantime, I am going to be an honored teammate!  They asked if I would assume this role for the summer walk team, and I am so excited!  An honored teammate is meant to inspire participants who may not have a personal link with leukemia or lymphoma.  I submitted a story about and a photo of myself, and they will receive these in packets at the season kick-off tomorrow morning.  My responsibility is simply to encourage them during trainings (when I can), and to remind them of the reason for their fund-raising.  I thought I’d share with you the story I sent them, even though you should be pretty familiar with it by now!

I bet you’re looking at this photo and thinking, “wait a sec…this girl had leukemia?  She looks pretty darned healthy to me!”.  Look again.  This is the photo of a two-time leukemia survivor visiting the Skyline Drive for the first time since her relapse…a 31-year old woman ecstatic to be in a world of campfires, tents, hiking boots and wildlife.

Nine months before this photo, I lay in a hospital bed in Seattle receiving a transfusion of stem cells from my sister, Laura, hopeful that her cells would replenish my battered bone marrow and give me the “gift of life”, as she so often refers to it.  When my acute myelogenous leukemia returned after three and a half years of remission, I was shocked.  I was angry.

I was also lucky.  Lucky because I knew researchers made advancements with treatment of the disease.  Because Laura was a perfect match.  Because I knew all of you were out there raising money to benefit patients like myself.  I reset my priorities and once again went into patient mode, focusing all my energy into getting healthy.  One mile around the ward each day?  No problem!  After all, I walked the VA Beach Half only nine months ago in two hours, fifty-seven minutes!

The day I left to meet the TNT bus driving down for the half marathon, my parents gave me a necklace that read “You Never Walk Alone”.  My diagnosis and treatment brought my close-knit family and friends even closer, and I thought of them with each swing of the arm, breaking my form occasionally to reach up and touch the engraved words on the necklace.

When I relapsed, memories of Team in Training brought me great strength, physically and mentally.  I recalled all the purple shirts and neon green hats in VA Beach, and I thought, “indeed…I will never walk alone”.

Thank you for walking and for continuing the efforts for others who cannot join you.  I missed two years, but I plan on coming back for the fall season!  I doubt there will be anyone on race day who will feel more pride when donning the neon green and purple.

GO TEAM!!!!!!!!!!

Fittingly enough, one of their big summer events is the Seattle marathon, a fairly new addition to the TNT races.  I feel pretty special to think they’ll be walking my Seattle streets, raising money for blood cancers, and thinking of me.  :)  I think we’ve come full circle, don’t you agree?

OK…now it’s a week later…how is it that it takes me weeks to do a single blog post?!  Let’s see…what else?  Oh! I bought my “healthy heart pass” so I can start working out again!  Last night, I went swimming for the first time in years.  Well, I got in the ocean and the pool for a little bit in Miami in 2007, but that doesn’t really count as exercise.  :)  I wasn’t allowed to be in a pool for many of the last few years because of my catheters and the dangers of germs.  Although my arms are aching now, it felt wonderful last night, just as I remember it.  It was a bit embarrassing when I crossed over the middle of my lane and right into the guy sharing it with me (on my first lap).  I apologized, and he looked at me like “What the…?!”  I caught up with him at the wall later, and explained I hadn’t been swimming in a long time.  I should have added “I had leukemia twice since I last swam laps”; then he would have felt really bad for giving me such a dirty look.  :)  hahaha  That’s right…still using the “c” card to help me out whenever necessary!  Lori pointed out that running into guys that share lanes with me could be a good way to find a date.  =)

Well, I better be heading to bed soon.  I’m pretty sleepy!

I will leave you with a few quotes I found recently…you know I’m a big quote person! Enjoy the quotes and the many photos.

Love from snowy VA,


“Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.” - Author unknown

“You must get involved to have an impact.  No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.” – Napoleon Hill

“Some people are like Slinkies - not really good for anything, but you still can’t help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.” hahaha I know it’s sick, but I just couldn’t stop laughing! :)

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.” - Unknown

The following links are just to make you smile. :)




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