I was diagnosed with AML on Friday the 13th in March 2015. Oh yeah, I’m totally superstitious now! I went into remission one year later. Once I was cleared to fly and built up the courage to travel across the country to Denver, I attended CancerCon. It was a great week and it was the first time I really felt “normal”. I was so moved after my trip, that I decided to spread their mission. I hosted a Meetup on Long Island and I’m planning to host another one as a post-COVID celebration, as well as a five-year cancerversary! I see these Meetups as my way of bringing a little part of Stupid Cancer home and sharing my experiences with people who don’t know this organization exists! My hope in hosting Meetups is really to form support groups locally and encourage those who haven’t been to one to join us… in person or via Zoom! I wish I knew about them when I was first sick!
Unfortunately, being diagnosed in my mid-thirties was the shock of my life. Nothing can prepare you for hearing those three words—“you have cancer”—especially when you worked a full day just the day before. I was then told that my first round of chemo would be 24/7 and a combo of 2 drugs the first 3 days, followed by 3 more weeks in the hospital! That was 5 years ago. A huge benchmark!!! Today, thankfully, I continue to be in remission!
This year, for the 5th time, I will be walking in the Light the Night Walk (a fundraising walk for blood cancers organized by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). I was looking forward to paying it forward and telling those who are newly diagnosed or newly in remission that I’ve been in their shoes, and that they can make it to long-term remission as well! Despite everything being so emotionally charged because I was still sick, my first walk made a huge impact and remains to do so every year. It was meeting so many others who were 1, 5, 10, 20+ years in remission that made me realize that I could be one of those people. I’m now on the other side!
So another sign of the times, new normal, and snapshot of my life… this year the LLS is still holding their Light the Night “walk” but, sadly, are doing it virtually. This year with COVID, blood and plasma donations are even more important. Recently, I needed another 4 units of blood. This is my reality… there will be times that my blood counts go so low, that I will require a transfusion or two. One way you can make a huge donation, without fiscal means or if money is tight, is through the donation of your blood, platelets, and by joining the registry for stem cell transplants and signing up to be an organ donor. While I was sick, I received over 100 blood or platelet transfusions.
Thank you for supporting me as I continue to recuperate, joining me in my efforts, and helping me move the needle forward towards a CURE!!!!!
“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You can not withstand the storm.’. The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’”
Be the storm!
By Karen Michelle