Life with Leukemia

Nearsighted and Farsighted

I recently had my annual eye exam and my vision, although slightly different, still confirms that I am nearsighted (unable to see things clearly unless they are relatively close to the eyes). As I’m sitting here in the hospital undergoing a Pulmonary Functions Test, Bone Density Scan, a series of blood cultures, routine exams and a Bone Marrow Biopsy, I realize as a transplant patient you have to be both nearsighted and farsighted, in a symbolic sense.

This day exactly one year ago, I was lying on a table with multiple tubes attached, undergoing full body radiation in preparation for a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT). That was day -5. (No, that was not a typo.) You see, they counted the last days of my leukemia-filled life as negative integer days and when I received the BMT that was day zero. Any days you are fortunate to live after day zero are considered positive integer days, so +1, +2, etc. Today is Day +360. In 5 more days I will be 1 year old!

I remember thinking this day would NEVER come, as I would sit and stare at the walls just wishing that I could have my negative integer days back. A year seemed so far away. Coach Chuck Pagano sent me an email during that low point with words of encouragement on how he had gotten through his journey and he said it’s so important to just take one day at a time. Don’t try to figure out tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Just focus on the day at hand. I had to be nearsighted.

chuckstrong

BUT, on the flip side, my overall healing required that I also be farsighted (seeing or able to see from a great distance). My doctor connected me to a 2-year post-BMT patient at a time when I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. All I could see was where I was at that present moment. I remember asking her did she think the BMT was worth it because I just didn’t think so. She replied without hesitation, “Absolutely!” She admonished that frankly the first 6 months absolutely suck because you can’t do anything or go anywhere. But, shortly after that, things start getting better. She exclaimed, “Once you are a little over a year old, you are going to be invincible, like 2.0.”

I can’t help but to reflect on how far God has brought me. Over the past few months I was able to stand in my best friend’s wedding, speak at various events and even meet the man who encouraged me via email, Coach “Chuckstrong”. Every day I hit another positive integer I get excited because I’m still alive. So, this upcoming July 15, I look forward to celebrating the birthday of Melanie 2.0. God has more in store for me than He did in my former life.

Candacewed

Steven Curtis Chapman recently came out with a song called “The Glorious Unfolding” that encapsulates what every nearsighted or farsighted person needs to hear. Below is just one verse and the chorus:

Lay your head down tonight, take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out, just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not anything like you thought the story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you, but it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us and watch this glorious unfolding

If I could offer just one tip for anyone who is going through a major life circumstance, it would simply be to never base any decisions on nearsighted life-changes without first considering the farsighted promises God has in store for you.

 

MEL-STRONG

comment (9)

  1. G.Harris

    10 Jul 2014 - 5:46 pm

    I plead the blood of Jesus over u and your family and ask that God continue to send peace angels, war angels&healing angels to comfort,protect&nurture you and contain you until your release & testimony in Jesus name (G. Harris)

  2. Tiffany

    10 Jul 2014 - 5:49 pm

    Melanie, you don’t know me but I have been silently following your journey. You have no idea how much you have restored my hope in healing for cancer. You have blogged at your lows and highs. I’ve prayed and sometimes, I’ve honestly hung on by a thread to see your healing take place. I’ve experienced great pain from the words cancer in my family. As much as I believe for everyone else’s hearings when it comes to the words cancer, gosh it’s been a hard fight in the mind to stand in faith. I’m so happy for you!!! Day 365, 400, 730 will come!!! I believe and know it. The world needs stories of hope and healing. Jesus is so real!! God bless you and your new journeys in life!

  3. Kionna

    10 Jul 2014 - 7:53 pm

    Thanks for being a vessel for God to use. You encourage me with every entry. Continue to be blessed!

  4. Wendi C

    10 Jul 2014 - 10:10 pm

    Hello Mel I’ve been waiting to hear from u. You never disappoint me with your enlightenment You encourage me every time. May God continue to heal you and may He continue to allow you to bless us through your personal testimony.

  5. Krista

    10 Jul 2014 - 11:19 pm

    You are awesome!

    Krista

  6. Dani Yeakey

    11 Jul 2014 - 10:19 am

    Mel, thank you SO much for allowing God to use you as voice of wisdom and encouragement! Your testimonies are profound and beyond enlightening.”The Glorious Unfolding”, I definitely needed this today! Honestly I am visually “challenged” naturally (wearing glasses since elementary) and periodically struggle with this same challenge spiritually. Thanking God for the peace that comes with knowing He knew our end from the very beginning. Your words reminded me of that fact today and I am grateful!
    Happy Early Birthday!!!

  7. Michelle Hudson

    11 Jul 2014 - 11:23 am

    Melanie- STRONG you are! You continue to bless and encourage us all. What a mighty God we serve! 2.0- I like that and celebrate with you as you turn 1 (smile) and also your upcoming birthday!

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us, you’ve touched so many lives including mine.

    Much love,
    Michelle

  8. Scarlett Duncan

    11 Jul 2014 - 1:32 pm

    Hi Mel-Strong this Scarlett and I love your testimony I appreciate you….I almost made it to my 2yr Anniversary of Breast Cancer….Well tht nasty Cancer has come back but worse…it is called Metastatic Breast Cancer to the Bones and in Stage 4….It is in my Skull, all in my Spine and my Pelvis and my Lungs…..But I know a God Tht will HEAL me from the Crown of head to souls of my feet….God has heal me before and he can do it again I am going to come out as pure Gold…..Now the human side of me is Scared but I look at you and I know I can make it you are a God sent young lady I know it is going to be a Journey and I am going to fight like a girl….I love you keep me in your prayers and I will keep you in my prayers…..Scarlett I am a SURVIVOR! !!!!

  9. Rick Reifenberg

    13 Jul 2014 - 2:12 pm

    Melanie,

    Congratulations on the one year milestone – it is great to see how well you have done. I still remember the first time you and I spoke on the phone in June 2013, about a month before your transplant. Like I had done 2 years before, you were trying to decide if an umbilical cord bone marrow transplant was worth the risks and the many unknowns. But since the alternative was even worse we both came to the same conclusion – the transplant was our only chance for long term survival over our leukemia. After talking to you I was so impressed with your faith and ability to allow God to work in your life. A year later it is obvious those things have not changed about you. I wish you the best going forward and for many healthy years to come. Dr. Rick

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