There are so many moments that can define your life. A graduation, the birth of a child, marrying the love of your life, losing a loved one, and so much more. I have had many of these moments, but the most significant, life changing one is when I was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. In the blink of an eye, my life was now defined as “before cancer”, “during cancer,” and “after cancer.”
Before cancer, I had a tendency to sweat the small stuff. I always needed to prove my point or share my opinion, even when it wasn’t needed. I was constantly on the go and felt like I needed to be everything to everyone.
After a busy long weekend in April 2017 that included five different commitments, I felt exhausted. The exhaustion had become my new normal and I had nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and unexplained bruising. I justified the symptoms with: the weather was changing and my sinuses were dry; I had two young children and worked full time; I had a rambunctious puppy. My symptoms weren’t so bad on their own, but together, they were a cause for concern. Eventually, my mom and husband convinced me to see my family doctor. Blood work was ordered and off to the lab I went.
At 6:50 the following morning, I woke up to a call from a doctor at the lab telling me to seek medical attention as soon as possible. I arrived at the ER by 9:30am and was admitted within two hours. This was life with cancer. I didn’t get to talk to my kids to explain where I was going or why. I had to call family and friends who had been worried about me to tell them I had leukemia.
With a cancer diagnosis, I started my chemotherapy immediately. I was in the hospital for 42 days. I received 30 blood and platelet transfusions. I had a host of side effects from the chemo. While I stayed as positive as possible, and was lucky to have an acute form of leukemia with a great long-term remission rate, I still had an uphill battle to face.
Today, I am grateful. I am grateful for my health, for the people who supported me, for the time I have with my children. I am thankful for the small moments that make life worth living. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I tell people I love them and I mean it. I embrace all life has to offer. This is life after cancer.