Always choose a clinical trial where good people in your family live. We had the pleasure of staying in D.C. with my sister-in-law, Austyn. She spent the week putting the final touches on a public Montessori charter school she confounded that will be opening this week called Lee Montessori. Proud of her and her coworkers. Wishing them the best on their first year. #TrialsOver #SchoolsJustBeginning
Celebrated my final day on the #NIH #GVHD natural history study by volunteering for a skin biopsy. #tgif #maninthemirror
Leukapheresis is a procedure that spins my blood in this apheresis machine to separate white blood cells—specifically lymphocytes in my case—from red blood cells and plasma, for research. It’s like a high tech salad spinner of blood. Pretty awesome. #NIH #GVHD # Leukapheresis #Apheresis
Be well by Walgreens. Leukapheresis. Day 4 of 4. #BeWell #walgreens #nih #leukapheresis
Pulmonary Function Test. So far so good at the #NIH #PFT
Development office round table: “let’s do something with a cat in it. No…let’s do something with a cat and an American flag. Wait…no! Let’s do something with a cat in an American flag hammock. Yeah…let’s do that.” #donateblood #nih #cats #america
Everything is going well here at the NIH…gift shop. #bogo
I wonder why they call it #bloodwork ? #nothinglefttogive
On the road to volunteer for a week long non-treatment natural history study of Graft vs Host Disease at the National Institute of Health. Excited to learn more about this phenomenon for my own health, also honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the knowledge base for others in the same position. #GVHDuDontKnowMe
This morning I’m up in the Bretnizone—where I wake too early and do too much on Prednizone. One of the things I love about regular disability mornings is sitting on our couch with a cup of coffee bearing witness to the silent movement of morning light across our apartment. Sounds peaceful, right? I agree. Its too bad that in the Bretnizone, I’m usually missing the entirety of this bright, brilliant dance in favor of 17-inches of laptop screen, where I simultaneously bookmark articles and essays I promise to read post-Bretnizone and delete hordes of useless junk mail, all the while hoping today might be the day Office Max or Banana Republic or Overstock really drop the big coupon.
This particular Bretnizone six o’clock morning, I was grateful to ditch the laptop (for a bit) and ponder the current situation of my friend, fellow Hodgkie and Imerman Angel mentor, Christine Sherman.
That’s Christine on the right. Christine was one of the first peers I was able to connect with after my diagnosis. She was in remission at the time, and she did much to waylay my concerns and arm me for life during chemotherapy. Since then we have both experienced recurrent disease and transplant.
On August 6, Christine received the results of yet another biopsy confirming her Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has in fact returned for a third time. All I could think was, “fuck.”
I’ve had a full summer. Extended vacation. Rewarding work. Incredible time with family and friends. This summer all I had to do to feel better about my day was to consider where I was on that same day the summer before—either preparing for transplant, in transplant, or recovering from transplant. This summer, in addition to bearing witness to the silent movement of morning light across our apartment, I’ve been witnessing my own heart and mind once again opening up to the possibilities of life without cancer. And it feels so good. And I want to bathe and splash and play in a big fat bath of that feeling, forever and ever.
When Christine shared her news all I could think was, “fuck.”
It turns out the bath of that feeling is more like a hot tub and hanging out in there very long isn’t possible. It’s even a little gross. Life punches you in the throat.
I feel deep empathy for Christine. I feel deep empathy every time I hear of a recurrence of cancer. I’m pissed for her. I know she’s pissed too. And yet these were her words to her friends on Facebook…
“I got my biopsy results a couple of days ago - positive for Hodgkin’s. The third time is a charm, right? It was a relief to get confirmation, actually, since I’ve known in my heart that it’s been back for the past year. Now I can finally take action and move forward. Treatment begins next month, but it *shouldn’t* be too bad, at least in comparison to past treatments. In the meantime, I’m trying to get some fun in and appreciate the good things going on in my life.”
What a trick—to just dig in like that while you’re melting on the inside. I’ve done it myself, but I’m always baffled by it in others. Backed in another corner, she isn’t giving up. She’s stepping up.
And apparently, rappelling down…to support Our Clubhouse (formerly, Gilda’s Club).
Our Clubhouse helped Christine just as she helped me when I was diagnosed. Now, right in the mix of her third return to treatment for cancer, Christine is taking time out to raise funds and awareness for others. Bless her for it.
Christine has two weeks to raise $600 additional dollars for Our Clubhouse and she will qualify to rappel down a freaking building in downtown Pittsburg—health and sanity permitting, of course.
Let’s help Christine continue to step up for others, when she could have just stepped away.
Please give today! http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/christine-sherman-1/overtheedgepgh