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Resources and Support

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

Never Look Back
by Joan Johnson

I found making the decision to have a transplant difficult. There are some for whom this decision is a "slam-dunk." It's available, so let's go. That didn't happen for me.

It's probably because I did risk management for a living. In risk management, you look at everything that could go wrong, try to determine the likelihood it would go wrong, see if you could prevent the problem, and if not, what could be done to fix things when it happened.

The list of transplant risks wasn't long, but their effects could be disastrous, should they occur, and the mitigations few. I read about the procedure, thought about it, and I talked to my family (endlessly they later said), transplant doctor, oncologist, and internist. All were patient, kind, and to some extent long-suffering. That's another of my traits: why kick just one tire, when there are four?

My family listened to my struggle to decide what was best for me without offering their opinion, except to help me keep my reasoning sensible. My transplant doctor explained the charts I brought in, putting statistical information in perspective, and gave me the straight talk on the procedure. My oncologist did the same from his perspective. From my internist came this advice: When you have made the decision, no matter the outcome, do not look back; do not second guess yourself.

And that is the best counsel I can pass along. Once you've decided you are going for it, do not look back. The reasons you had for proceeding into these uncharted and scary waters will not have changed. Keep your face forward and into the wind. Remember: you are not in this alone. Your medical team is smart and compassionate. Your friends and family are not just in this for the ride, they are in this for you. And more important than all this is: you did your best for yourself.

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