Saturday, January 28, 2012

Drug Free?

Thus a new chapter will be my last day on Gleevec. Two years sure has flown by, 48 pegasys injections later- and only time will tell if the CML has left my body for good. The thought of being drug- free is a hard one to process, it is an ideal situation- one every CMLer hopes for......yet looking forward, I am having mixed emotions- ecstatic at the thought of moving on from the CML, scared of losing my safety net (Gleevec). Gleevec and I have a love-hate relationship, Gleevec has been a constant throughout this jouney. I love Gleevec for giving me a 2nd shot at life- keeping me out of the chemo ward and for successfully inhibiting the nasty tyrosine kinase that lurks in our chromosomes- I hate Gleevec for making me feel different, changing my physical appearance, giving me headaches, cramps and that nauseous feeling. Alas, daily ingestion of Brian Druker's magic formula is something I can do without.

I was diagnosed with CML in December 2006 at the age of 25, younger than most patients. Let's say time- machines actually existed, and the CMLKid today had a meeting with the CMLKid at diagnosis- I think the conversation would go a little something like this (new patients take notes):

Kid, you are about to embark on a journey- you will be climbing a mountain, the ascent will be steep and the slopes slippery. There is no map for this journey, no climbing equipment either- there are no sherpas to guide you up this mountain, no trail to follow. Throughout this journey your body will be acting against you, the only way to successfully complete this trek is to keep your emotions in check as each day will be a test . Some days you will feel physically fit and will be able to climb for hours at a time, other days you will just want to stay in bed - the climbing never stops.........descent from this mountain is not an option. Along this journey you will meet teachers, others who have climbed this very same mountain- while some have trekked much harsher conditions. You will meet people who are climbing but were not able to finish their journey- these will be your greatest teachers. Your family and close friends will offer to go on this climb with you, do not allow them to- at times it can be a scary place, inform them of your whereabouts but don't further invite them to this journey. The climb requires you to be in the best physical and emotional conditions; sleep sufficieintly, exercise regularly, drink lots of water, eat healthy foods, take your meds regularly- this is not easy but is essential for a successful climb, keep your mind at ease- remember, the only way to the top is one step at a time. As you will need all of your energy and resources, it is necessary to release anything from your life that is depleting you of these two things. When you are lost or feeling as though you are not making any progress on this journey- reflect- review the landscape, reach out for help, there is more than one way to the top of the mountain. Educate yourself about the terrain and conditons you are climbing in- and make noise! Those who think they know better will insist that you stay the path you initially embarked on, do not be afraid to switch gears- often times the change of course will lead you to the top, make lots of noise.....remember the squeaky wheel get's the oil! Be patient with your body, try to understand it- often times, the healing is from this understanding.

Today friends, I am gearing up to reach the mountain's peak- I am not sure if I will be up here for a week, a month, a year or a lifetime...........the journey has made me a stronger, wiser person. Some of you have held my hand for part of the trek, others have been here since Day 1 offering support and encourangment. To those of you who enabled me to get to this point, I have nothing but love and gratitude for you- you are the reason I am here 5 years later.......within a grasp of "dislodging the bullet".

Health & Happiness,