By Janet Walsh
Number and Word – neither are significant in and of themselves, right? At least that is how I looked at them until March 11, 2022 when they took on significance in my life beyond my wildest imagination.
Late February, 2022, mid COVID during the pandemic. After being released from my orthopedic surgeon for a hip replacement 3.5 months earlier, I was having some blood tests at my primary care’s office. Then… the phone call from him later the same day – “you need to see a hematologist as your blood results are unusual for you.”
16 days later on March 11 the following numbers and words were said to me:
Acute Myeloid Leukemia
mutations on3 chromosomes
28% chance of remission
Just numbers and words until March 11 when they took on meaning beyond my wildest dreams creating gloomy thoughts – mostly fear driven. 10 days later I began a Journey of medical treatment to alter the potential gloom of those numbers and words.
Moving ahead to May 11, 2022, 52 days after those first fateful numbers and words, more words were said to me:
Mutations have disappeared, even the worst one
Candidatefor Bone Marrow Transplant
Again words, but changed now from provoking uneasy, scary and gloomy thoughts to hopeful and thankful ones. The power of words! And more words from my oncologist:
It will be a long Journey
It will be very Hard Work
Being a person of strong faith and belief in the power and presenceof God, I prayed as I never had before – mostly for His guidance and direction for my next steps. And God never let me down! He quickly opened doors to the right doctors, the right hospital and treatment center, and opened my heart to search out prayer and support. And the prayers flooded in from all across the country: friends, family, ministers, priests, bishops – people from all faith denominations praying for me. I can truthfully say I felt held in the arms of God, surrounded and comforted by blankets of prayers, which continue as I write this.
Journey and Hard Work. Hearing the doctor say those words, my thoughts went right to “how hard and long can it be? I’ve been through hardship before – death of a spouse, raising two children alone; journeying with adult children through mental health issues, alcoholism, divorce and everyone coming out to a better, healthier place. Those were long and hard journeys so again, how hard can this one be? Having been a person of good health with no significant health issues, I recognize now I had a very limited perspective of what was yet to come. And everything came – and changed my life for a year. A 365 day Journey with continued isolation as I had been doing for a year and a half with COVID, focus on medications, food, liquids, and doctor’s appointments. But also lots of time to think and pray about the blessings in my life: a loving spouse and children, thoughtful friends and family, even the beautiful hummingbirds outside my kitchen window – all of these blessings which are easy to forget in the midst of all the new Hard Work I was doing.
Now celebrating one year post-transplant I ask myself, where and what will my next Journey be? I am certainly praying it is not as long and hard as this last one, but there are at least four behaviors I am incorporating into my life as I wait to see:
1 – be Thankful, every day for all things.
2 – find Joy in the everyday of life
3 – hold onto Life, but not too tightly
4 – be ready for the next Journey whether it be easy, fun or hard– always
relying on one of my favorite scriptures:
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me
And I will pay more attention to Numbers and Words!