“May you live every day of your life.”
― Jonathan Swift
Today, 10 January 2017, I am officially living with cancer for 10 years. While the day of the diagnosis is not necessarily something to be celebrated, the fact that I have won through for so many years definitely is.
I have championed for 10 years. Back then I thought I had about 10 months to live and that I would succumb to the disease that year. That was something terrifying to live with as I had a two year old boy and a nine year old girl and they both needed me. Being told I had a rare cancer that was incurable almost consumed me that day ten years ago.
While I am a strong person and I am delighted to be celebrating the past 10 years of being given a second chance at life, Brenda 2.0, has not come without its challenges and daily reminders that I am living with a really challenging illness.
In 2007 I spent 10 weeks in hospital for treatment, for stem cell harvest, for the transplant, and then for the shingles!
In 2008 I was admitted for a serious infection that I could not manage without IV antibiotics.
In 2009, on the first day of our family holiday, I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with a pulmonary embolism. That was definitely one of my nine lives used up.
In 2010, there was another infection that I had to be admitted to hospital to treat.
In 2011 there was a respiratory infection.
In 2014 There was an admission to hospital for a serious respiratory infection.
in 2015 there was appendicitis. It should have been a keyhold surgery but because of my compromised immune system, it was five hours on the operating table as the infection and bacteria really took hold.
In 2016 I was told I might have a brain tumour and or MS. That diagnosis was given by a doctor in a small hospital who was not used to my complicated medical file and who panicked!
The list goes on. In between all of these I was at the hospital every week, every two weeks, once a month and now I go every eight weeks to haematology and every six months to renal care.
Even though I am in remission, you are never really done with the medical appointments and the daily reminders that you have cancer.
But today is a good day, it might even be a great day! I really and truly am celebrating the fact that I am still here and the hope that me still being here might just give to the medical team looking after me and to those who are newly diagnosed with this cancer.
When I was first diagnosed, I was always delighted to meet other patients and when they told me they were living with Myeloma for 5 years, I would do the maths and add five onto the ages of my kids. It wasn’t enough time. Then I met someone who was living with Myeloma for 7 years and I did the maths and added the 7 to my kids’ ages. It still wasn’t enough time. Then I met someone who was 10 years living with Myeloma and I thought, that’s better but it’s still not enough time. I have since met people who are living with Myeloma for 15 years and I realise now that I have become one of those younger Myeloma patients who is now creating new statistics by still being here after 10 years.
I have been thinking about this milestone date and year for a while and wondering how I might celebrate it. I have come up with a list of #10thingsfor10years.
It’s a list of 10 things I want to do to mark the 10 years. It’s as far from a bucket list as it could be because I don’t believe in those. These are things I want to do to celebrate, to mark 10 years of kicking cancer’s butt and to raise awareness of the disease (which is still rare) and also to show people that there is a lot of life to be lived after a cancer diagnosis. I am hoping I can count on your help with some of the things on my list. Here goes:
- I want to perform at least 10 random act of kindness for 10 cancer patients and/or their family and maybe encourage you to do the same so we have 10 x 10 acts of kindness for cancer patients.
- Do 10 things out of my comfort zone (I will need help with suggestions).
- Do a mini SU2C (Stand Up to Cancer) event with at least 10 acts taking part and all donations going towards cancer research and/or helping Myeloma patients.
- Postcards of thanksgiving and hope – send 100 postcards over ten weeks to say thanks to people who were there for me when I was ill.
- Do 10 acts of faith – Novenas, Pilgrimage, Walks etc.
- Have a thanksgiving event for friends and family in July to mark 10 years of my transplant.
- Do at least 10 random acts of kindness for the doctors, nurses and staff looking after cancer patients. These are the ones at the coalface, the life-savers and we all know the conditions they are working in.
- Raise at least 10 x 100 euro for cancer research.
- Do 10 interviews in the media to share the good news that there is life after cancer and to raise the profile of Myeloma. It was mentioned on Grey’s Anatomy the other evening -it would be great to have that level of recognition and awareness of the disease here in Ireland.
- Do 10 special things to celebrate with my kids and hubby.
If you can help me with suggestions please do. If you can help me practically with any of the above, I would be most grateful. All of the above will be subject at all times to how my health is but I hope that I can get through all of it.
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help with anything or want to make a suggestion.
If I can achieve even one or two of the #10thingsfor10years then I will be more than happy.
For today, I am simply glad to be here on earth and looking forward to taking the next 3,650 days, slowly, savouring each one, a day at a time!