Musings – 8 GREAT YEARS

Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.
Maya Angelou

Today, 9 July 2015, is the 8th anniversary of my successful stem cell transplant and I am filled happiness, relief, joy, thanks, nerves…… and a myriad of other feelings.

I am so thrilled to be marking another year of a clean bill of health as far as the Myeloma is concerned. I know I had the blip with the appendix in April but overall it has been a very good year and it feels wonderful to be celebrating the 8th year since my clever stem cells did their miraculous work and saved my life.

I honestly never thought I would be here writing this today. I wasn’t sure I would get eight months, never mind eight years.

I used to project forward and do the maths around the kids and how old they would be if I was to have a year, two years, three years etc. They would never be old enough to be without their mother was what I always calculated. Why should my two beautiful children have to grow up without their Mum? I never wanted them to be set apart as the kids people elbowed each other about because they no longer had their Mum.

Although I am celebrating today, eight years is not nearly enough time with them. Emma is an adult now and that’s quite something to be able to see as a Mum. She is beautiful, kind, caring, intelligent, funny, quirky and one of the most talented writers I have ever read. Yes I am biased of course. I want to be around for this next stage of her life as she goes to college, falls in love and finds her place “on the train of things” (I am quoting a line from one of her poems – see below).

When I have fears that I am – A Poem by Emma Tobin 

I need to find some old besotted meaning
I need to find my seat on the train of things
I need to find the person who will listen even when
I don’t want to be heard or seen or known,

Even when I don’t want to have been.

I want to be around as she takes flight and I want to be around to be the broad shoulder she will always have if she needs to have a good cry. I want to share box sets and movie screenings with her….. and I hope she will want to share them with me.

I want to be around to watch her first novel being unpacked and placed on the shelves of book shops. I want to be around to teach her how to drive.

All the big/little milestones which are to come.

Cathal is almost 11 and he still has so much growing up to do. I want to be around for him as he changes from my little boy with his sweet voice into a moody seep-voices teenager. I want to see and hear those changes. I want to be around to film his youtube videos for his own channel which he hopes will someday have a Golden YouTube button (whatever that means).

Here is his first ever YouTube video which is an ‘unboxing’ one (whatever that means).

I want to be around for his transition from primary to secondary school and for all that will bring. I also want to be there when he receives the Golden Button on YouTube (I need to google that!)

Growing up we bought our younger brother a t-shirt which said:

I WANT
I WANT
I WANT

That’s all it said. I think I need one of those t-shirts now.

While I want a lot, it’s all simple and ordinary stuff.

I know there will be lots more extraordinarily simple day to day things to come for me with the kids and they are the things I want most – the routine of

I want to be around to grow old and to watch as my face changes and crinkles more with age. I want to have more adventures with Bryan – we are married 20 years this year – and I still feel we have only just begun. It’s wonderful that he loves me just the way I am, and it’s wonderful that he has loved me in sickness and in health.

I also want to be around and need to be around to clean the toilets – no one ever seems to notice they need to be cleaned in our house! To think the state the toilets would get into if I wasn’t around!

And the cats – I need to be around to look after the cats. Sure who would feed them? No one ever remembers to feed them or to let them out at 5am in the morning!

While it’s just super to be so far away from the trauma of the treatment for my cancer, it also means that I am potentially moving closer to its return. That is something that is guaranteed to happen. That’s the only guarantee you get with this cancer is that it will return at some stage. It augurs well for me that I have had such a decent remission on this first transplant. I have more stem cells waiting for me for the next time. They will only ever do two transplants as the risks outweigh the benefits hands down. There are lots of new treatments which have come on stream since my diagnosis and transplant 8 years ago. Eight years in medicine is a long time too.

But today is not the day to dwell on my cancer coming back. Maybe  I will be different and I will set a new record for the longest remission from a first stem cell transplant. Who knows?

What I do know is that:

  • I will continue to love, laugh, live
  • I will continue to make memories and to manage mischief with the kids
  • I will continue to hold my hubby’s hand and heart
  • I will continue to be unpredictable and to use up the rest of my 99 lives
  • I will continue to just be

and I will squeeze every last ounce from this one single imperfect and yet perfect life I have been given ….

Happy stem cell transplant anniversary to me

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