Archive | January, 2012

Good Riddance and Happy New Year

1 Jan

It’s incredible what passes for a year. It elapses quickly but when you think back to December 31 of 2010, you laugh at your unbeknownst self who could never have anticipated all that was to come. 

In 2004, after the close of my first year with cancer, I looked back on the year with gratitude. Gratitude that I could wipe my forehead with a giant “whew!” and move on to all that I had been looking forward to in 2005 and beyond. Gratitude that I had a life to look forward to. Gratitude that I had learned so many grown-up lessons and was given years to practice them. And gratitude that it was all behind me. Lessons learned.

All that’s true again this year. But I’m pretty sure I had those lessons down pat after the first time around.

So let me be real. This year kind of sucked.

I’m not going to romanticize or sugar coat. I’m not going to search too deeply for silver linings where they aren’t deserved. I learned more about suffering than I let on here. I learned how to make my own fun, how to be alone, how to sit still, how to be more independent than perhaps I should be, how to persevere. Hopefully those lessons yield to resilience in 2012.

But I guess it’s all how you look at it. Just as I can compare to December 31, 2010 when all was right, I can also look to February 18, 2011, when all was wrong. When I was diagnosed with MDS and the stretch to 2012 seemed unfathomable. Or March 2, when my brother Jack proved a mismatch and the anxious search commenced to find an unrelated donor while hoping, hoping, praying my MDS didn’t ripen to AML. Or for those two weeks in May when the excruciating, confusing pain in my legs had us worried I may not walk. 

And now, thanks to my selfless donor and resolute medical team, none of these are concerns any longer. I have been blessed with an incredible caregiver – my mother who slept next to me every night and who amused me, a recluse in New Ulm, for months. I kept a committed boyfriend who cradled all the baldness, anxiety, fluids and scars and returned them with juvenile jokes. I relied on a father (also stupid, but welcome, jokes), a brother, grandparents and other friends and family with the liveliness to heal. I benefitted from years of advocacy work from patients before me who paved policies that eased it all. I came at just the right time, when my Mayo doctors had armloads of research to give me the best outcomes, and when Be The Match had 25 years to build an extensive list of committed donors, one of whom would donate to me when she was only 19. I had great health insurance, an accommodating employer, a cozy home in which to recover. My hair is now reddening and spike-able.

With that, I think it’s time to formally leave The Redhead Report a relic of last year. It’s not that I have nothing left to say, but I’m not sure The Redhead Report is the proper venue in which to say it. I started this blog to keep all of you, dotted across the map, on the same page when it came to my treatment. Happily I can say treatment is mostly over now. And as much as I love a good opportunity to embellish, don’t let me pretend my life is interesting enough for a blog. And that’s just great. I was given an unearned spotlight and it’s time to enjoy the anonymity of any other healthy girl.

Me, Jack, Lucy and Mom

My dad and me

Festive Jimmy and me

I’m not sure where the next few months will take me, but I’ll post when I have a relevant update to give. (So you don’t have to keep checking back, sign up for an email alert at the side of this page.)

I’m indebted to all of you for sticking with me this last year, for embracing me with such support and sincerity. For your comments, your prayers, your notes and your thoughts. Thank you. Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you.

And so 2011, good riddance. I may have good things to show for you, but the credit isn’t yours. Here’s to a welcomed Happy New Year, 2012!

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