A Letter from Andy: Month #3- Life Itself

In November I committed to being thankful more often than just around Thanksgiving. Spending a few words here each month talking about what I am thankful for will surely make for an entire year of thankfulness. This is only month three and since it is the anniversary of something dear, this will be easy. I am thankful for life itself.

You see January 10, 2001 I got a “new” birthday. On that day, after my stem cell transplant, my counts increased for the first time. The medical team that had worked with me so hard and for so long refers to that event, that turning the corner on the return journey from near death to life as my new birthday. So, this year of 2015 will be my 14th birthday.

Obviously I am thankful for my recovery. And I am so very thankful to the team that saved my life. You may think the immense difficulty suffered by the patient is the worst of it. As I have told everybody who will listen, the hardest jobs and the heaviest burdens are borne by the caregivers. My team of caregivers included my parents, my mother-in-law, my daughter, and most importantly my wife Mary. It cannot go without saying they all played a huge role in my survival.

The professionals that made it all possible, I refer to as my medical team. The team was headed by the incredible Dr. Mark Kaminski at the University of Michigan. His staff, the nurses on the transplant floor, the Residents, the Pharmacist, Housekeeping, and the medical Specialists all played an important part of my eventual survival. Each one played a critical role in winning the battle. It really was a team effort. Today, I still see Dr. Kaminski and his staff about every 18 months as I am still in a “durable” remission. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I found the folks that saved my life and gave me a “new” birthday!

Here’s a favorite poem I’d like to dedicate to the folks on those teams and those that are personally fighting the cancer battle.

“What Cancer Cannot Do” (version 2, anonymous)

Cancer is so limited that:

It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul

So, for month #3 I am thankful for my 14th “new” birthday. I am thankful for life itself and all those who made it possible for me to continue living. Thank you each and every one.

Have you been intentional about being thankful for something in January? Have you joined me on the 12-months of thanksgiving? You only have to come up with nine more things that you are thankful for to complete our Year of Thanksgiving? “How Thankful Are You?”

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