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Resources and Support

Voices of Hope & Healing
for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant

I Had Leukemia, Okay
by Ed Thorp

I had leukemia, okay. I had it, and now I don't, and that should be that. Only it's not. It's a memory that won't go away. Not a haunting memory, not a slow motion replay of a rear-end collision where you find yourself clenching your arms against the seat, looking back over your shoulder for the too-fast car that isn't there. No. Leukemia is vague with occasional flashes of coherence. It is a constant hum.

Then, it would happen... Perhaps one of my legs had fallen asleep, or the coffee had cooled slightly, a tight bitter taste. Something. Anything.

There would be a sudden flash in my brain, telling me that the tingling sensation is exactly the way my legs felt after seven weeks in a hospital bed, emaciated, weak, and thin. They throbbed when I tried walking up the stairs at home. That exact sensation would come crashing down on my head: sitting in a comfortable chair on the back porch, warm morning sun, good coffee, all of that, but my legs are weak and tired and in so much pain.

And then I'd be tasting the chemo again, tasting it bad like it was during the first round. Mystery fevers out of nowhere again. And, burning from the inside out with those damn toxicity burns on my hands and feet.

These had been real. It's not fair to call them memories. It's been five years since I'd been in the hospital. Five years since chemo and baldness, but the colors would be so clear, the smells, the sounds, that nasty metallic taste...

The constant hum of leukemia would transform into a brief shout.

Pay attention, it says. Do not forget me. I can make your body remember, even if your mind wants to forget.

Today is five years since a total stranger gave me a second chance. Today, he became the brother I never had.

Five years ago today, leukemia became part of my past and not a part of my future.

Today I give thanks for five amazing years. And thank God for 5, 10, 15, 20 more.

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