During the past couple of days, I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with coworkers who likely visualized me on a death bed at MD Anderson. As difficult as it is (from a repetitive standpoint) to share the details of the past four months, the connection with others who’ve experienced similar trials, or are close to someone who has, makes it all worth it.
Yesterday, I talked to man in his mid-forties who shared a recently diagnosed heart condition. He walks with his wife every day, and was lucky enough to be diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat before it became fatal.
Today is my first day back to work since I left to begin a clinical trial at MD Anderson on January 16th. To summarize the past three and a half months, I experienced an increase in toxicity during the first trial for a t315i leukemia mutation, fought through muscle weakness and nausea, lost some of my vision, began blogging for MD Anderson, and was accepted as a compassionate care patient for a promising drug called Ponatinib. It wasn’t quite the kind of vacation I wanted, but I may look back on this period and say it was the best thing to ever happened to me.
I’ve been on Ponatinib, a clinical trial drug that fights the t315i leukemia mutation I have, for one month so far. Before I began treatment, I was off of medication altogether for three weeks. The first test showed an abnormally high white blood cell count. To simplify things, this is how leukemia presents itself. After two weeks on my new medication, my counts normalized. To not bog anyone down with medical terminology, I pulled out what’s important and posted below. Continue reading “An Update on My Treatment: So Far, So Good”
There’s a grocery food chain called Tom Thumb on the other end of the block of my apartment complex. Until you live this close to a grocery store, you have no idea what convenience is. Should the milk ever run out mid-pour, I’m literally two minutes away from more. In fact, it takes longer to put on a more acceptable shirt and walk down to my truck than it does to get from my apartment complex to the sliding front doors.
Recently, Tom Thumb linked up with the Support for People with Disabilities fundraising campaign to benefit Easter Seals, Special Olympics and an array of organizations that help people with disabilities live fuller, more independent lives. At the end of each transaction, the cashier asks the customer if they’d like to donate money for the cause. On the customer transaction screen, there are donation options of $1, $5, $10 and $20. Any amount you donate is conveniently added to the total of the grocery amount. Continue reading “The Grocery Checkout Donation Dilemma”
When I was initially diagnosed with leukemia, I could barely walk up a flight of stairs. Once I reached the top, I would pant like I had just crossed the finish line at a death valley 100 mile ultra-marathon. I went to the doctor and discovered my white blood cell count was one hundred and twenty eight thousand. That’s 128,000 if you prefer to look at a number. Since normal is 4-11 thousand, I was definitely in a little trouble.
As my medicine started to work, so did my legs. I became more active and no longer panted like a dog trapped in a car on a 90 degree day. I committed to working out, alternating between the treadmill and stationary bike. Over time, the commitment paid off. Not only was I fifteen pounds lighter, I felt more energetic, I had a clearer head, and started feeling better about living a “normal” life. Continue reading “The Perils of Building Endurance”
I had a long talk with Katie yesterday about the writing process and the elusive struggle to align the cross hairs that make a blog post effective, meaningful and worthwhile. Writing is much more than putting something down on paper. Let me rephrase, good writing is much more than putting something down on paper. It’s hard work. My best blog posts exhaust my mind and leave me feeling like I couldn’t possibly etch out one more sentence. Afterward, there’s always the juxtaposition of reading what I’ve written and knowing I could have made it a lot more four-dimensional, tangible, relatable, fluid, more everything. Continue reading “TED Talks: The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown”
When you look back at the life you’ve lived, it’s occasionally interesting to think of the three, four, five, etc., significant events you’ve experienced which have shaped your ideals, thoughts, esteem, and changed the trajectory of your beliefs or actions. All of these circumstances have been meaningful enough to set you on a path you might not have otherwise encountered. In this series of posts, I’ll embark on an interesting experiment to recall and recapture the feelings associated with some of the most significant life events that have either directly or indirectly shaped my worldview and the life I live today. My hope is that, through this, you’ll begin to rehash those significant moments in your own life and realize the impact those moments still have, further prompting you to explore the insight of your interactions with yourself and others.
“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
MY FIRST SIGNIFICANT MEMORY OF REJECTION
When I was young, around the age of nine, I enjoyed going to the Boys and Girls club. Because I was often sidetracked by other activities during the school year, I didn’t get to go as often as I’d liked. The summer break, however, provided unlimited opportunities to explore untapped reservoirs of possibility. In other words, I had all the time in the world to do what I wanted to do.
A natural obstacle to the land of immeasurable fun proved to be the limited number of kids I knew who were members of this minimally exclusive club. As a result, my attendance to the Boys and Girls club was better defined as infrequent and sporadic. Every time I was invited, or had the opportunity to spend an afternoon up there with a friend, I would jump at the chance to go. Continue reading “Significant Life Events: Rejection”
Early in my career as a human, I would secretly celebrate being under the roller coaster height limit. I used to be afraid of them.
“I’d love to go, but see Goofy’s arm? I’m under that. I’ll wait.”
Wait, I did.
The violent, furious sounds of a roller coaster declaring its sharp turns was enough for me to step back and realize that my desire to be thrilled was outweighed by the fear of something going terribly wrong. I just knew I’d be the one stuck looking down at a tiny city on the descending side of the coaster’s steepest peak. For me, it was thrilling enough to wait at the exit and greet my family as they walked down the ramp. Continue reading “Breaking Through the Element of Fear”
When I was little, I remember crawling under the covers of my bed, closing my eyes and with the heavy burdens of life as an six-year-old child, speaking to God.
“Dear God, can you drop a lot of toys on my roof?”
My mom taught me about prayer. She told me I could talk to God, ask Him for anything. All I had to do was believe. Wow, I thought, I’d finally have all of the transformers I wanted.
It was dusk out, the sun faint on the horizon. Moments prior, daylight savings walked into my bedroom and introduced itself as a childhood enemy,
“Hi, I’m daylight. When you’re put to bed tonight, you’ll wonder what kind of trick your parents are trying to play on you. You’ll grow confused as to why you had to come inside, eat and take a bath early. And you’ll likely cry. No, you will cry. I bid you adieu.”