Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Year to Remember

Happy New Year! So 2006 was not the greatest year for me and my family. Getting a cancer diagnosis can put a damper on even the brightest moments in a person's life such as having a new baby. On top of that, other events happen in your life that you are forced to deal with no matter what your physical and mental health status might be. This year posed all of these challenges for me and my family.

Fortunately, CML has become less of an issue everyday. At my most recent checkup after Christmas, my doctors were very pleased with my progress and felt that I was ahead of where they were hoping I would be at this point. Technically, I have had a complete hematological and cytogenetic remission. I am working on the final remission which is molecular. I am almost there.

Needless to say, I am thrilled with the news and the progress that Gleevec has allowed me to attain. Interestingly, the effects I am now feeling most are related to coping with the diagnosis. I think I have had a bit of a delayed reaction to CML. Initially, I was so focused on fighting this disease, learning about it, and raising money for research, that I did not focus on what having cancer has meant.

Last week I went to Dana-Farber for a checkup. I took the train to the hospital for the first time and had a lot of time to think about cancer and the hospital. I find that before going to the hospital, I become very irritable. I am not nervous about my appointments, because I know I am doing well. Instead, I feel angry that I have to deal with any of this nonsense. I love Dana-Farber, but when I sit in the waiting room, I think to myself, why should I have to be here. I am sure everyone around me in the waiting room is having the same thought.

Perhaps it was distraction or denial before, but I must now face the fact that I have cancer and will have to live with it for the rest of my life. It reminds me of the email I received when I first signed up for a CML discussion group. "Welcome to the club that nobody want to belong to." I think they lifted that line from Gilda Radner, but it is certainly appropriate.

Despite all the emotional impact CML has had over the past year, I have certainly learned a lot about myself, my family, friends, and cancer. My hope for this New Year is that it will be a lot less stressful with no major bad news to try to cope with. May I also reach molecular remission so cancer take a back-burner to more important things like living and enjoying life.