Wednesday, October 12, 2016
The day has come. Today, October 12, 2016, marks 3 years since my transplant and basically 2 years since I finished chemo. Wow! Has it really been 3 whole years already? It feels like it was just yesterday. At the same time, lengthy pre-bed treatments, tube fed meals, coughing, lack of appetite, burning lungs, beeping IVs, oxygen tanks and an overall struggle to survive seem like a very distant memory. I almost can't remember my life before transplant, almost.
Making it to 3 years is huge. About 40% of my fellow transplant patients don't make it this far. It is not just a statistic but something I have seen play out. I have seen the dreaded message about a friend needing prayer as they take a turn for the worse. Many tears have been shed as those battles come to an end. It is an interesting experience to see friend after friend suddenly go downhill all while I am sitting here fine. It is confusing, on one hand, filling my head with the why me's of survival and yet, it is also calming. There is an interesting peace that comes with knowing, truly knowing, how fragile and temporary life truly is. At any moment it can be taken from me, from any of us, and the thing is, there is nothing any of us can do about it.
So what do you do with this information? You live. You find what matters, what is worth your time, what makes you happy and fills you up and cut out what doesn't. You fill it with adventure, with fun and laughter. You fill it with people in community sharing struggles, joys, laughter and pain. You say yes to opportunities and try not to let worry about the little things stop you from experiencing the big things.
3 years means I have lived 3 years longer than I was supposed to. 3 years means I have gotten to experience almost 3 years of "normal" life (all except that little cancer blip, two years ago). I have had 3 years to share laughs and play games. 3 years to be silly and make up songs. 3 years to pull all-nighters full of good conversations. 3 years to explore this crazy planet and go on spontaneous adventures big and small. 3 years to meet people and make friends and I've loved it!
I won't lie and say I have enjoyed every minute but I have definitely liked a lot of it and I wouldn't do it differently if I went back. These last 3 years have been some of the craziest but also some of the best years of my life. If 3 years is all I get, I know that I lived those years to the fullest! And, if I get more time, I plan to keep on living it, one day at a time because, honestly, that is all any of can really do!
This year to celebrate I am going somewhere to see my human smallness and fragility in a more tangible way, under the stars and the rising sun, surrounded by good friends, with an early morning trip to the Grand Canyon! Until next time, get out there and live!