Most people love the cool, sweet taste of a popsicle on a summer day. However, I would not be one of those people. I may even hold a record for eating 12 popsicles in 1.5 hours. It was June 2013 and I had my last days of chemo therapy before receiving my new stem cells. I ate popsicles during one chemotherapy treatment because I was told it could prevent mouth sores. Those nurses were right! The determination I put into keeping my mouth and throat as cold as possible paid off. I didn’t deal with painful mouth sores like some other patients. Unfortunately, it also triggered the thought of puking anytime I was around a popsicle. I’ve made progress and today can be around popsicles, but I’m not ready to eat one yet.
Today my immune system turns two years old because on June 5, 2013 I was given new stem cells that actually recognize cancerous cells and fight them off. Having a stem-cell transplant is much like a blood transfusion. It involved a slow process of receiving the stem cells intravenously (probably about five or six hours) and a lot of Benadryl! However, unlike a surgery, I was awake the entire time and watched two or three movies during the process. I didn’t even have to leave my hospital bed!
It’s the little things, like popsicles, which mark this journey and remind me how far I’ve come. These little things also remind me to be thankful for the life I’ve been given. Thank You, God for this new opportunity to live today. Also, Thank you, stem-cell donor (wherever you are) for your willingness to give to someone you’ve never met, so I could live without cancer.
Hugs – I went a few months without hugs because of the germs people carry with them simply by being around other people. I think that was the hardest thing I ever did! I love hugs and it was hard to share honestly what I felt knowing the person listening couldn’t respond with a hug.
McDonald’s Cokes – I know these aren’t good for you, but I definitely missed fountain drinks for the few months I had to abstain.
Salad – I wasn’t allowed to eat any fresh veggies or fruits for a while because my immune system couldn’t handle the germs. My first salad post transplant was for Christmas 2013. Fresh food never tasted so good!!
Privacy – A month in a hospital reminds you how much you appreciate your privacy. I’m so thankful I’m at home, in my own bed and someone won’t be there to wake me up at 4 a.m. to take my vitals or draw blood.
Pedicure/Manicure – Yes, this is a luxury item but it was something I couldn’t enjoy with friends for quite a while after the transplant. It’s actually one way I celebrated today’s milestone – with pretty nails.
Driving a car – I used to not have the energy to drive a car for very long right after the transplant and today I go on road trips to Chicago and Michigan!
The sunshine!! – Certain medications I was on following my transplant would cause sensitivity to the sun. I’d have to wear a long-sleeve shirt, long pants/jeans, hat, etc. to a baseball game. I’m thankful to enjoy the sunshine and especially the beach!
Going through this transplant journey reminded me to be thankful for the little things. As I look back, I’m reminded again to be thankful and to have thankful eyes throughout my day. What little things are you thankful for? When we find little things each day we grow in gratefulness and our perspective of today becomes a celebration rather than a to-do list.
Maybe our leftover popsicle sticks can become thankful sticks where we write those little things we’re thankful for this summer. (I’ll ask my niece and nephew to save me some! hee hee!) Send me your “thankful stick” photos!! I’d love to join you in celebrating!!
I can tell I’m “turning two” because I think life is about to take a turn toward a crazy momentum/pace. God is setting up His safety latches on doors He doesn’t want me to opening yet. Here I come world, watch out!!