Today is Day +2192.
It’s been a long while since I have written an update. Mostly our lives have “normalized” to a steady beat of life post cancer; A life continued through the medical miracle of stem cell transplant.
Side Note (kinda early on in this post, I know): It still is interesting to me when people say, “but he’s ok now, right?” I know what they mean, but that question post any-life-transforming-experience is loaded. They want to hear yes. I want to (and mostly) just say yes. Wil has always been OK. Varying versions of OK. But yes, he’s OK. He has embraced every iteration of OK along the way with a heaping amount of grace. He has learned to live and manage the side effects of survival. You’d never notice most of them—many are invisible. And besides, if you have met him, you know, he is not gonna complain AND his love of life will make you forget anything stood in his way of living the last 2,526 days—days since he was diagnosed. So the short answer—he is managing well. And no resurgence of cancer. I guess I just want to honor the entire experience and normalize that life post-anything is not a version of what it was pre and it won’t ever be—-that takes nothing away from the goodness of seeing another day, it just embraces the duality. We much prefer to let the truth show through and to say that abundance is never a cookie cutter picture.
Honestly, I don’t think I started breathing again, or truly resting, OR regained the ability to look further ahead than I could see, until we reached October 9, 2019—his 5th stem cell anniversary last year where we said our goodbyes to his oncology team and stepped out into a what felt like a new and surreal day—never safe from another storm, but having statistically (and spiritually, emotionally, mentally) made it further than we could have hoped.
So today—Day +2193—his 6th anniversary (the first that didn’t require extra tests, scans, or biopsies, or even visiting the BMT clinic) feels a bit odd. Especially this week.
Side Note: We were made for COVID y’all—-all that people are trying to do to stay healthy and protect themselves? That was post transplant life for a good year. So all of that, while still a collective grief we certainly share with you all, felt strangely…familiar? Constant fear of infection? Check. Mask wearing everywhere and limiting public outings? Check. Distanced from loved ones? Check. Thankfully we have both been blessed to be home these last 7 months. Wil finishing his Bachelor’s degree in May and working part time on campus at a lab until he was laid off in July. Me working at my full time job, at home, and even taking on a promotion to management in another department, plus while doing telehealth with my private practice clients on the weekends. Every day together, just us and the dogs? Check. Like riding a bike. Only this time around it meant a true partnership—I’ve hung up the caregiver hat. It’s been filled with sorrow over a life none of us imagined—but, we have also enjoyed having what feels like precious borrowed time together. We still try to live like these are bonus days.
This was the first week in a long time that I cried at the bottom of the shower. (Best place to cry and not have puffy eyes all day—that little survivors tip comes at no charge ;)
Why? Monday Wil started his first full time job in 7 years. In his field of choice. Post graduation. And now I am crying just letting that sink in again! 7 years we have either been in treatment, recovering from treatment, or attempting to find new dreams and a build our life back up post treatment.
And of course, thank you Universe, it had to be the week of his stem cell anniversary (already emotional), during a pandemic (for the love of…), and onsite at a hospital (seriously?)—-just to add to the overwhelm.
So after he left Monday, and I started getting ready for my day, the enormity of the moment hit me. This was the full circle moment that seemed unimaginable not that many years ago.
I am cheering. I am scared. I am so many shades of all the emotions. But mostly I am grateful. Beyond that, I am in awe of him (and us) and this life that we really are re-envisioning, despite things we never wanted and void of some hopes we had in the past—-but it’s a life, to quote Mary Berry on the Great British Bake Off, that is “cram jam full of flavor.” Imperfect. But good.
So join us in doing a little social distanced celebration of the fact he is still alive today (do one for yourself today too?). Raise a toast to Wil-the-working-man who continues to show us all a little something about tenacity and faith.
Even with a mask, you can see the joy on his face.
(selfie walking out of work today—week one done!).