acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
It was last July, and I was just a regular Jersey girl. I was a 41-year-old wife, mother of two, physical therapist assistant just living a regular, normal life, or so I thought. I was just returning from a vacation in Puerto Rico, celebrating my brother's 50th birthday, when I fainted on the plane and had to have an emergency visit upon landing.
That was a Tuesday, and by Thursday I was called while I was back at work, actually in a room with a patient. They told me to return to the hospital because my blood work was abnormal. The doctors then called me two other times to find out if I was on my way to the hospital because it was now imperative that I return. I was scared. I did the first thing I knew, which was to call my mother (my dad passed from pancreatic cancer over 10 years ago). I went home, packed a bag, didn't even get to hug my then 3-year-old who I dropped off at school that morning, and next thing you know I was in the hospital with a diagnosis of a mutated form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
For the next 45 days, I endured chemotherapy, fever, cooling blankets, IVs, countless medications, an MRI, over 20 x-rays, multiple CT scans, ultrasounds, an echocardiogram, PICC Lines, multiple bone marrow biopsies, a spinal tap, and numerous other tests. During this time, I became bed-bound because I had an adverse reaction to my chemotherapy that had my organs shutting down and my muscles deactivating. My husband, mom, close family, and friends were allowed round-the-clock shifts at my bedside. Upon discharge from the hospital, I spent an additional two weeks in a rehabilitation facility before finally returning home a week before my birthday in September.
About two months into being home, my cancer returned, resulting in another hospital stay and a round of chemotherapy. I then developed colitis and further complications which required surgery and another hospital stay where I missed Christmas and New Year’s with my family for the first time. So, here I am once again, AML in remission, thanking God that three hospital stays later I'm alive, walking without a walker, bathing, dressing, and toileting myself. I still have a little difficulty with stairs, but I'm about 80% back to feeling normal. I have some healing to do with my colostomy reversal surgery and bone marrow transplant ahead of me. But I've made it this far; God is apparently in my corner, and I'm grateful.