Category Archives: leukemia

Transplant Lessons


It’s been 6 months since I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a precursor to leukemia, and told that unless I underwent a successful bone marrow transplant, I would not survive another year. See my post “Sobering News and Turbo-Charged Learnings”. I was extremely lucky that the youngest of my four brothers happened to be a perfect match for me and was able to donate his stem cells to be transplanted into my bone marrow after my own bone marrow was annihilated by chemo treatments during a short four day period. Otherwise, I could still be waiting for a donor with time running out as so many others I have heard about.

It was a harrowing four months before the transplant, fighting opportunistic infections that had me in and out of hospitals  during that time and isolated in my apartment when I was not in the hospital, because I was immuno-compromised and could not afford catching even a simple cold. Towards the end of that period the doctors suspected I could have already degenerated into acute myeloid leukemia which would have substantially reduced my chances for the transplant to cure me. In addition, it would have required months of debilitating chemo to make the leukemia retreat to a point where I could undergo the transplant.  Luckily, when I  underwent a biopsy, it showed that I was still under the threshold for AML.  The doctors were able to proceed with the transplant in the beginning of February. I will be under regular medical treatment for the next two years but hopefully my life has been saved.  Nonetheless, there are no guarantees.  The statistics show that there is around a 50% probability that one can succumb to a complication post-transplant or that the illness may come back.

Why do I mention this? Despite the odds, I feel I have a new lease on life. Part of a successful outcome depends on seeing the glass half full instead of half empty and additionally, we can only live in the present.  The past is gone and we don’t know if there will be a tomorrow, hence the saying by Horace, carpe diem.

I would like to share with you some of the realizations I have come to in the past months, some of which were completely contrary to my former lifestyle:

  • Enjoy life now.  The day you pass on to greener pastures no one will remember how much time you spent working.  People will remember relationships, and any support or help you may have given them. Do not waste opportunities to reach out to others.  Even a simple smile can be uplifting.
  • Have balance in your life.  Do not leave things you like to do for a mythical time in the future when it might be more appropriate to indulge.  When you can’t do something specific, don’t dwell on it. There is plenty to enjoy and limitations allow you to try items you like but may not have been part of your short list.
  • Be aware of limitations for perspective but do not dwell on them.  Know that nothing happens randomly and we are all on different paths. Do the best that you can with the 5% of our minds that we control, knowing that there is another 95% that we do not control and yet there is a higher power we can access to guide us and bring it into our scope.
  • Freely accept help and good wishes without feeling that you are imposing or indebted to the giver.  Give them freely yourself, without any expectation of gain.
  • Develop yourself spiritually as it will hone your intuition and help you to discern the big picture of what is going on in your life and what you need to focus on.
  • Remember and pray for all those who are ill or in dire circumstances and especially those who are alone and have no one to turn to.

Please share your thoughts with me on these and other lessons you may have learned through experiences in your own life or from the lives of those close to you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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