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Voices of Hope & Healing
for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant

There Really Is a Light at the End of the Tunnel... and Many Sparkles in Between
by Gerlinde Olvera

Yesterday a friend asked me, "How are you feeling these days?" I answered, "I feel great." My friend is a physician and knows that I'm not always honest about how I really feel. I gave him a wide grin and assured him, "You know, I used to have small bunches of good days. Now, almost all days are good days."

I really do have super days most of the time. Yes, aches and pains still haunt me and remind me that I was once seriously ill and that I've gone through some pretty drastic treatments to help me overcome leukemia.

But let's face it: life is always fraught with challenges. The leukemia diagnosis, the stem cell transplant, and subsequent chronic Graft Versus Host Disease have definitely presented challenges for my family and me, but I always hear my Grandma's voice when things seem overwhelming. She told me that life will throw us challenges. "You see, how you face those challenges makes all the difference. You can either get scared and run or you can chunk the challenges into smaller bits and pieces and take them on one at a time. Then, when there are things you have no control over, leave them to a higher power. It's really about attitude, faith, and hope." She knew from experience, because life had not been easy for her. Yet, she always seemed happy and contented.

So, I listen to my Grandma's voice. I chunk the seemingly insurmountable hurdles that seem to be part of any serious illness into small pieces and sort out what I can do to help myself and what others can help me with. I have faith. I completely trust that nothing happens without a greater design. My attitude is that of a fighter: Bring it on. I can deal with it, and amazingly I can. I have learned that nothing is impossible, especially not living life to the fullest regardless of how I feel at any given time. I've been able to experience a myriad of happy and wondrous occasions even during times when my health seemed to be spiraling downward. I call those times my sparkles. Now here I am. I am a survivor and I know for a fact that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. I have gained so many wonderful insights during this journey; insights that make me appreciate every new day and all the exciting things that are still waiting for me. You see, I'm planning to live a long and happy life regardless of life's challenges just like my grandmother.

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