The Year That Was

As the new year dawns, I wanted to share an update about my fight, and share some thoughts on the past year.

I’m at day 193, and I am feeling great. Normally they do a bone marrow biopsy on day 180 (and then on the anniversary), but for me Day 180 fell on Christmas, so I got a couple of days reprieve. Then earlier this week, we had the follow-up with the doctor and team, and here’s the news:

I’m officially cancer free! 

As if that wasn’t enough, I’m now off the Prograf, my immunosuppressive drug, so I’m now clear to go out in public, to church or the movies. Of course, I need to avoid anyone who might be sick, but that’s a no brainer.

He also took me off a bunch of other drugs, and moved me to once a month follow ups, which should help the old pocketbook. 

Now, while I’m celebrating my progress, and thanking God, I can’t help but think about other things that have shown me how blessed I truly am.

First was the death of Craig Sager. His battle with leukemia, the same AML as I have, was an inspiration to me. But his death, and that of my fellow Northside patient Tim, have made me sad, and brought home how fortunate and blessed I am.

I also participate in a couple of Facebook groups of leukemia patients and survivors, and there I find out about what I can expect moving forward, and also share about where I’ve been. On that page I’ve met some people who were diagnosed about the same time I was.

One of them is Marine Major Ian Brinkley. Like me, he didn’t ever really show symptoms of leukemia. One day after a 12 hour flight, he had a bad headache and congestion, so he went to the doctor, and from the testing, found out that he had AML. I followed his progress through the posts by his wife, and he seemed to be moving along well.

But, around early fall, she stopped posting to the group. I didn’t think much about it at the time, thinking we would hear from her soon.

But over the Christmas break I got to thinking about things, and I decided to do a Google search for Ian, and I found out, sadly, that he had succumbed to his AML at the end of October.

My sadness at finding that out was profound. Here was someone like me, whose progress paralleled mine, but who, for whatever reason, wasn’t able to survive.

Like Tim.

Like Craig.

And like hundreds of others.

So, then, why did I?

I can’t answer that, except to say, by the grace of God, and by the work of my doctor, Stephen Galya, and by the hard work of the team at Northside.

And also, taking Craig Sager as an example, does this mean I might not survive long term? I don’t know. But I do know what I’ve learned from this, and that’s if I do what they tell me, and pay attention to detail, then at least I will know if and when the cancer comes back, and we can deal with it then.

So, in the meantime, now, I thank God, and I thank my family, and I thank you all, for your support and prayers. 

And I move forward, to make this year, and every year and every day from now on, the best.

Being Thankful for The Little Things

Today I went to renew a license at the county courthouse, and it reminded me how much of life’s normal features I have come to appreciate.

First, I parked several blocks away and walked over, both to save the parking fee, and to get some exercise. It felt good.

Second, I was glad to have made it to the point where I can actually renew something.

Third, I got a little chuckle when I read the part asking my hair color. I wrote “I wish.” The clerk didn’t bat an eye.

Anxiety and Relief


I have wondered about Jesus’s anxiety, His agony, in the garden of Gethsemane. I have always seen it as a special case, especially since Paul later tells us to be anxious for nothing, in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 6:7). I certainly don’t blame Him.

And now, as I’ve been fighting leukemia, I’ve confronted anxiety myself plenty of times. For the most part, prayer has given me God’s relief, though it doesn’t always come immediately. But this cartoon reminds me that I may not get the relief the world says I should expect.

One thing I take away is that Jesus confronted his anxiety, and gave it over to God. He was then prepared to go through whatever He had to, since He knew who was in control.

Another thing I take away is that while we say that God will handle it, and it will be okay, I have to remember that for Jesus that included His torture and crucifixion. Obviously “okay” needs to be defined on God’s terms.

Am I ready for that?

This Feels Weird

When I checked in for my original treatment on March 15, I got an arm band as a hospital patient. Soon, they added another band with my blood information on it, to make transfusions easier. Ever since then, I wore the red striped blood band. Every three days I got a new one. In fact, if you look at photos of me, they all have that band.

Until today.

My CBC numbers have finally reached the level where, should my new marrow go its normal way, I won’t require any more blood or platelets. So today, my nurse cut off my last band.

So for the first time in four months, my left wrist is empty. Weird.

I’m sure I’ll get used to it.