At first I measured the time post transplant in days, then weeks. Now I am measuring the time in months. Two months ago today. Another month to go until I expect to be cleared to return to work part-time. I expect that at some point soon there won't be anything to report in a weekly update. It will mean life is back to normal. That's the interesting thing. Life already feels pretty normal again. The shock of being diagnosed with an incurable cancer seems to have worn off.
I am not sure what I expected to feel six months after the doctor's unexpected news. I suppose that I imagined that I would be focused on the illness and the future and the unknown. And, while I do wonder about what lies ahead, I mostly find myself carrying on as usual. It helps that I don't have any symptoms of the disease and that I am not heading off on rounds of medical appointments and treatments. There is the little medic alert bracelet that I wear now that says "bone marrow transplant - irradiated blood products". Other than that I find that I can go through most days without thinking about having multiple myeloma, never mind dwelling on it.
In the initial days after the diagnosis I found myself treating each day with health as precious. No more taking days, weeks or months for granted. Each gathering with family, each Sunday with the congregation was a gift to be cherished. As time goes on the days are taking on a more everyday quality. I am not sure what to think about that. There is something rich and wonderful about receiving the everyday as the precious gift that it is. On the other hand, when the days are more ordinary it means that life is coming back to normal. There is something precious about normalcy.
I have a friend here at the beach who also has multiple myeloma. His stem cell transplant went well. Recently, however, his blood counts revealed that the myeloma had become active again. He is now heading into the hospital twice weekly to receive chemotherapy for the foreseeable future. It is an effective treatment that should hold the disease back for some time. Nevertheless, it is discouraging for him and a reminder to me of what will lie ahead at some point in the future. On one of my last days at the bone marrow transplant centre one of the doctors said that they wouldn't likely be seeing me again until clinical trials. She meant that they will see me again after all the other possible treatment options have been attempted and I am one of those who receives experimental treatments. That will be when I am on the front-lines. Currently I am the beneficiary of all the others whose experience with multiple myeloma has taught the doctors and researchers what works. For now the front-lines seems to be in the distance. How far in the distance is anyone's guess. My guess is that it is far enough away that life can return to normal for a good while yet. I hope so.