Just Keep Swimming

Keep moving forward. I truly believe that is the key to surviving cancer and its treatments. Trust me; I’ve been through the meat grinder enough times to know. After an auto stem cell transplant 17 years ago using my own “cleaned up” stem cells to fight back my Multiple Myeloma bone marrow cancer and then another stem cell transplant 3 years ago using my brother’s donated stem cells to beat down my Leukemia, the secret is to keep moving ahead. Even if you can’t tell that you’re making any progress, a day will turn into two days, then a week, then a month and before you know it, several months will have passed and you have gotten stronger and stronger. You will find that things are much better and will feel like you can live your life again. That’s when you realize cancer does not rule your everyday life. You do.

After my first transplant and I was lying in the hospital bed, totally wiped out and feeling a little sorry for myself, it was my daughter who quoted the fish from the movie Finding Nemo – “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” So simple, but so right on.

I have talked with several people who were about to have a transplant and they would ask how it was going to go. I haven’t lied to them or sugar coated it. The truth is it really is a hard process to go through. In the case of my Leukemia transplant, when I was starting my treatment I asked my doctor what my odds were. He told me I had a 50-50 chance of surviving the next 6 months, including the transplant. Hell, that’s basically a coin flip! But I chose to be in the positive 50 percent and focused on taking things one day at a time. Like my daughter said – “keep swimming.”

I wish that for everyone who is going through a difficult time. Keep going. Just keep going. Things will get better.