Today is the day. Today is the day where my body supposedly has normalized and I can give my blood and urine to the lab to find out whether or not this transplant worked. I am headed to Dr. J for blood work and then have my follow up appointment Monday where we will find out the results, get a new bone marrow biopsy (ouch!) and a PET-CT scan of my bones to check for lesions and/or fractures.
And I’m not scared. I’m not nervous. I’m not afraid. Whatever the results may be I will deal with it as I have dealt with it all along. I will deal with it through energy, focus, determination and with the support of family, friends and colleagues.
For me – the toughest part is (and always has been) Helene and the kids. If the Cancer isn’t gone how do I tell them. As an adult, Helene can understand it. She’s a strong person. She can express her thoughts about it. But the kids. Why do my kids have to endure this? Why should anyone’s kids have to endure pain or heartache? Never – not once during the past year and a half have I said – ITS NOT FAIR! But when a child has a parent with Cancer – an INCURABLE Cancer with a 5-7 year average life expectancy – well, ITS NOT FAIR. Through the last year and a half the only thing I ever asked for was to spare my kids any heartache.
Being a parent is an amazing opportunity. I have tried to make the most of these last 100 days – while off Chemo – to be present for all their moments. I remember my first venture outside the house after the transplant was to see Ava in her first ever cheerleading competition. I was NOT going to miss that. I spent the last two weekends with Victor at baseball tournaments. Last weekend in a hotel on Long Island – away together – just me and him. He thanked me for spending time with him. There was a happiness inside him that I hadn’t seen before. Sitting on the couch one night Helene said to me – “All he wants is for you to be nice to him.” That really hit home. Am I not nice? Could parenting really be that easy? Just be nice? Admittedly, it’s not that easy. When you are dog tired from work, life’s outside pressures are getting the best of you or you are just in ONE OF THOSE MOODS and your child wants you to watch a YouTube video about poop for the fifth consecutive time – well – I can get a little dismissive. But I am in tune with that now. I WILL watch that poop video if it means so much to my child.
Over the last 100 days I have been to baseball games, cheerleading competitions, soccer, basketball, take your parent to school day and the reading of the 4th grade presidents report. I’ve tried to make the most of 100 Chemo free days because – at the very least – after Monday I will be on some kind of Chemo even if it is just maintenance.
So I have a plan. A plan to show my kids that this is not something to be sad about. Even if the Cancer isn’t all gone we will remain strong and happy. Even if someone throws us a curve ball we can wait on it and smack it right down the pitcher’s throat. It’s called #100happydays. Each and every day I will post a picture on Twitter of something that makes me happy with the hashtag #100happydays. There is a website called 100happydays.com that I registered with to track my progress. Those who follow me on Twitter (bradstrong – @bradcoustan) can see the pictures as well. I don’t know if this website is a scam of someone just collecting email addresses to hack Twitter accounts or not but it seems like a pretty cool idea to me – #100happydays. Because shouldn’t the NEXT 100 days be as good as the last 100 days if not better?
So – day 100 – morning coffee. Ready to hit the city and give my blood to the lab. Positive thoughts as always. There is nothing that can’t be overcome with the right attitude, the right drugs and lots and lots of LOVE.
I will post after my Monday appointment with results!
Photo by Joanie Schwarz Portraiture