Saturday, November 18, 2006

Not alone

So I am in Chicago at a conference that I usually attend every year. Although the conference is not overly intriguing, I usually go in order to catch up with friends from internship days and to visit a city. On this trip, we were also able to schedule visits with some college friends of mine.

Coming to the conference, I was a little hesitant because most of the people I wanted to see, I had not seen in about 2 years. I am not great about keeping in touch with these folks, but when we get together, it is fantastic. I was apprehensive because as far as I knew none of them knew about my diagnosis. I was dreading the awkwardness of the conversation. I anticipated it would go something like this:

"How have you been?"


"What's knew with you?"

"Well, I was diagnosed with leukemia."

Talk about a conversation stopper. I did not want this to be the first thing we talked about, but I did want to tell these people about this important change in my life. It just felt weird that I had this burden of a topic to discuss.

Within an hour of starting the conference, I ran into one of my friends, Deb, I was hoping to see. Here it was, the awkward moment. When I asked her how she was doing, she told me she had a tough year and was diagnosed with colon cancer. I was astounded. Here I was worried about disclosing my own cancer diagnosis, and she was dealing with the same issue. I told her that I too had been diagnosed with cancer this year and we both kind of stared at each other in disbelief. We had both joined a club we did not want to belong to in the first place. She told me about her surgeries and chemotherapy, but that she was also in remission. I was relieved to hear her progress, but felt guilty about how relatively easy my treatment had been in comparison.

While hearing Deb's news was a huge shock for me, it also paved the way for a smoother transition with my other friends who did not know. Since Deb and I are both psychologists dealing with cancer, we both had similar notions. How do we make our experiences helpful to others? I tossed around the idea of doing a book together with her or something to help other younger people who are diagnosed with cancer.

Needless to say, although cancer can make you feel very isolated, sharing this news with Deb made me feel much closer to her. I said to her "isn't it annoying that we are even having this conversation?" Oh well, you play with the hand you are dealt and I hope we can make a royal flush out of this one.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Obladi Oblada

It has been quite a long time since my last post. That is for a good reason. Not much has happened to me in regards to CML. There are many days when I don't think about CML or worry about it at all. It is interesting how CML has taken a back burner in many respects. I almost forgot my medication last week. Fortunately, I use a pill case that does not let me forget.

When I was first diagnosed, I went through a similar thought process that I suspect many people go through when diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness. I wanted to live life to the fullest and focus on what is important in life. I think I try to do this anyway, but in reality that is a hard thing to accomplish. I need to take care of my family and work and that takes a lot of time. My wife and I have been better about scheduling time for ourselves and getting a babysitter more often. We are also planning our 10th anniversary trip to Italy in the spring.

In terms of cancer news, I am doing quite well and just waiting for my next blood test. That will take place right after Christmas as I travel up to Dana-Farber in Boston. I am feeling good and my only side effects from the medication are muscle spasms in my legs and mild nausea in the morning.

I reported on my last blog about how proud I was of our Light the Night Team. As a team, we raised over $23,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and we were the highest fundraising team in the state of Rhode Island. I was so impressed by the hard work and dedication of my team members and the generosity of the donors. Having such a wonderful support network makes dealing with this cancer nonsense that much easier. Although I am taking a short break from fundraising, I am starting to brainstorm about other creative ideas other than simply asking for donations. Although that seemed to work quite well, I want to find other ideas. I welcome any suggestions.

In the meantime, I am off to Chicago with my family for a conference and to visit with friends.