This is the seventh post in a series titled, Today’s Reality. The series will chronicle my journey to remission from Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). My outlook as I begin this new phase in my life and blog series is living in the moment in mind, body, and spirit. I am not angry. I refuse to be sad. I am determined to live a long life with love and peace in my heart with the confidence of a better tomorrow filled with joy and humor.
Although my blood lab work continues to show progress toward remission, I am experiencing other health complications resulting from existing health issues, prescription interactions along with the chemotherapy.
My body feels like lead.
If you have ever had to wear a lead apron at the dentist office to take panoramic x-rays of your mouth, you know how heavy those protective aprons can be. Think of not wearing one but several of them at the same time. This is how my body feels by the end of the end of the day particularly trying to work a full-time job. My medical team has not been able to determine the sudden drop in my thyroid T-4 levels; so, my thyroid medication is slowly inching up to the maximum dosage. I have become a walking medicine cabinet.
I am too young to retire and financially unable to take a leave of absence. As I have mentioned in previous posts, cancer is not cheap even with good healthcare insurance. Although I am on an intermittent medical leave of absence from my employer, I still have strived to work every day and only taking time off for medical appointments, lab work, and when I simply do not have the energy to focus on my work.
Last year, I was promoted twice. I worked hard for both promotions but the second one had come as a bit of surprise and the position was one, I had wanted to achieve. I just did not know it would come as quickly after the first promotion.
I am grateful beyond measure that I am employed with a company that invests in their employees. Now that may not come as a shock to most people. But after suffering a devastating loss to my career during the economic crisis of 2007-2009, keeping my financial household afloat for years afterward as a self-employed contractor, then finding a wonderful job in mortgage banking in 2016 only to have that bank dissolve its’ operations in 2018, I thought I would never again find employment stability. I was blessed to become employed again with a company that did not look at my age but what value I could bring to them. THAT is what is rare today in the employment market!
Taking a page from another’s playbook…
Last summer before I was diagnosed, a friend of mine had posted on her Facebook timeline that would be taking a leave of absence from her teaching position to care for her husband who has been extremely ill with cancer for some time. She mentioned that she did not know how they would survive financially but she knew she knew was making the right decision to care for husband full-time. She knew in making that courageous decision, as I do now, that God is here!
Over a week ago, I did the second most difficult thing I have done since being diagnosed with CML. The first difficult thing being breaking the news of my diagnosis to my sons and my mother.
I approached my manager with a heavy heart to request to withdraw from my latest promotion to return to my previous position. It had become apparent to me that I would not be able to do the work at the level I expect of myself nor to what my employer and our clients deserve. I expressed my heart-felt appreciation when they granted my request .
I wrote an email of appreciation to the leader of the management team expressing how the leukemia had intercepted my dream of that promotion and that I was grateful for working for a company that treated me with such compassion and kindness. I went on to share with him how I counseled my sons in my decision to step back from the promotion because in order to lead a life of integrity we must never compromise on doing what is right for ourselves and to whom we serve; and to let the chips fall where they may.
I heard days later from my immediate manager that the email had provoked a tearful response from the leader of the management team when he shared the note with her and the rest of the leadership team. He had sent me a response letting me know that I was a valuable member of the company, to stay strong, and their prayers are with me!
Even if their response had been completely opposite, I still knew I had made the right decision as my courageous friend had made for herself the summer before.
Living with cancer
I hope that living with cancer will not always be like it is today. Going to bed at 7:00 p.m., waking at 6:30 a.m. with just enough energy to make it to the end of the day. (Even on some days that is still not enough.) I do not have much of an appetite anymore. Food tastes saltier, sweeter, or spicier and/or I have ‘explosive’ side effects than before chemotherapy. I drink an ocean of water every day.
I pray that my medical team will reach a determination on what is causing me to feel like lead on most days along with a treatment plan to help feel alive again. I also pray that I can someday focus enough to enjoy reading an entire book than just a few sentences or on a best day a few paragraphs.
I know that with the love of my family, friends, and the support of a great employer that I can now live with the self-care to achieve my remission mission. God is here!
No fear, no tears, God is here!
Today is Valentines Day! It is also the 28th anniversary of being married to the best man God chose for me – Vinny Sal. He has taken the best care of me and our sons. God has truly gifted me the best husband I could ever have imagined.
I am blessed and loved beyond measure.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Blogging Owl
This series, Today’s Reality will also offer a spiritual perspective on my website, The Prayer Journals, as well as a literary perspective on my website, The Owl Poet. I hope you will also follow me on those blogs too!
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