CHRONIC HOPE #5: From Battling Fatigue to Balancing an Energy Budget

On My Mind

I knew the call would come, like the expectation of a winter storm.

My oncologist forecasted that my body would eventually build up a resistance to my medication for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) after going off of it 3 times to have 3 miracle babies.

That dreaded call came the day after Christmas in the middle of a family movie.  The nurse dictated dates for blood tests and biopsies.  It was clear as I fumbled for a pen while running out of the darkened theatre that she didn’t care which dates worked for my grad school class schedule, my teaching hours, or my family life.

Bottom line, I needed to rewrite my priority list—ASAP!

I was thankful for a short commute between hospital and university in the heart of Detroit.  I naively thought I could change medications and not skip a beat in class.  I didn’t account for the unexpected…

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CHRONIC HOPE #4: A Potential Risk of Fighting Cancer

On My Mind

“How dare you be so irresponsible with your wife’s health?  Don’t you understand the risks you’re putting her through by getting her pregnant in her condition?”

I watched my husband’s face change from shock to anger as the nurse unleashed her stern lecture on him.

Five years into marriage and four years into my cancer diagnosis, I was nearing my 30th birthday.  We had given up on making long-term life goals.  I let go of the dream of living abroad for language and cultural studies, and I quit graduate school.

But the dream of being a mom got stronger.

My super-effective miracle medication for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) extended both my quality and quantity of life.  Aside from 3-month check ups, an annual bone marrow biopsy, and my daily meds, I lived a normal life.  But normal life made me hope for normal things, like a family…

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CHRONIC HOPE #3: Cancer Complicates My Identity Issues

On My Mind

The life of a creature is in their blood.  Blood is the essence of who a person is.

By blood I am Greek.  By nationality I am a U.S. citizen.  By education I am a Spanish speaker.  By cultural experiences I resonate with my Middle Eastern neighbors of Dearborn, MI.  By faith I am a follower of Jesus the Messiah.

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My whole life I have dabbled in multiple worlds, cultures, languages, and social groupings.  I hover on borders, struggling to figure out where I fit in.  That’s why I became a Language and Culture Learning Coach.

That’s why I have identity issues.

Enter Cancer.

By blood I have a cancer diagnosis.  More specifically, chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is cancer in my blood cells.  Ironically, the white blood cells that function to fight off disease have become diseased.

Someone advised early on,

Don’t let your…

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CHRONIC HOPE #2: Learning to be healthy and have cancer

On My Mind

“Wow!  You look great. Did you lose weight?”

In my late 20s and newly married, I enjoyed the positive feedback on an otherwise bleak situation. I joked to myself, Yeah, it’s this great new plan… the CANCER DIET.  But in real life, I awkwardly responded, “Thanks,” with no explanation of the dark secret to my weight loss success.

Then there were the people who knew I had recently been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). They said things differently.

“Awww, you look really good,” which was accompanied by a sympathetic head tilt and a hint of relief. They were glad I wasn’t bald, pale, and gaunt like the poster child for the Leukemia Society.

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I felt overwhelmed by these new life circumstances out of my control.  I needed to manage something.  This was stirring in me a passion for healthy living.

But, what is healthy?

Before my diagnosis,

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ESPERANZA CHRÓNICA: un diagnóstico de cáncer

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Originally posted on On My Mind:
La miseria. Las incógnitas. La desilusión. La MUERTE. Estos son miedos comunes de todos los seres humanos.  Un diagnóstico de cáncer abarca algunos de estos elementos básicos de miedo.  Me enfrente al diagnóstico temido cuando tenía 27 años, estaba recién casada, y tenía muchos esperanzas y sueños de viajar…

BEAUTY IN THE PATTERNS

On My Mind

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Tears streamed from the corners of my eyes and dripped boldly onto the sterile paper that covered the examination table.   As I lay in fetal position whispering a desperate prayer, I could feel the numbed pressure and intense inner pain of the thick metal needle probing deep into my hipbone.  I had stopped counting bone marrow biopsies after a dozen. They had become routine over the years of chronic leukemia treatments. With a thick layer of gauze under an over-sized Band-Aid, the doctor patched up my tiny yet deep bone wound and sent me on my way.

My husband hugged me tight, handed me my coat, and ushered me out the door.  I still had time to make it to my absolutely favorite graduate Spanish linguistics class.  Being an already awkward, over-achieving, non-traditional grad student, I decided limping in late with tearstains and a bandaged backside was still…

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