Monday, July 9, 2012

I just want to be OK today

Today is the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant. For most people who have cancer, the five year mark is something to be celebrated and a sort of security blanket - if I have made it to five years then I am going to be ok - right?

With myeloma [bone marrow cancer] there are no guarantees and it's a case of taking it a day, week, month and year at a time and that is fine - really!

I did not imagine that I would still be here five years later. This day five year's ago I was so sick. I was full of hope that the stem cell transplant would be a success, but I was scared at times, very very scared.

It has been an amazing five years and not just because I have gotten to do some amazing things like:

  1. Having Brian Kennedy play a private concert in my room
  2. Getting to take a family holiday to Rome
  3. Being the Executive Producer of a Christmas song that went to Number 1 on iTunes and to number 8 in the Irish music charts
  4. Climbing a couple of mountains
  5. Having the amazing experience that was #twitterxmassingle
  6. Meeting Ingrid Michaelson the co-writer of Winter Song and getting to hang out with her in her dressing room
  7. Doing all sorts of national media about my cancer and about Winter Song
All of things have been great, but what I have enjoyed most is just being here with my husband and kids and getting to be part of so many milestones in their lives.

I have had so much support from friends and family and others. 

I have had set backs but the last two years have been very good health wise.

So tonight a word of thanks to the man above and a prayer for all those who are battling this disease every day. My hope is that we will find a cure and that someday we will all BE OK.

Ingrid Michaelson BE OK

If you want to read my Then and Now blog you can do so at

9 July 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

A significant milestone

Next Monday 9 July will mark the fifth anniversary of my successful stem cell transplant for Myeloma - a type of bone marrow cancer, which I was diagnosed with in 2007. A stem cell transplant you say? What the heck is that?

Here's the science bit: A stem cell transplant means they trick your stem cells and get them circulating outside your bone marrow and in your blood. Then they harvest them by using a very fancy machine that you have to stay wired up to for at least one and possibly three days. They take the blood out and grab the little stem cells and then give you back your blood. It's all very technical and incredibly cutting edge.

That's part one of the process. Part two involves loading you with very toxic chemo which will wipe out your bone marrow and after a few days they try to rescue you from the cancer and the effects of the chemo by giving you back your own stem cells back via a transplant using the same little line into your chest. [Did I mention that the line has to be surgically inserted before anything else happens? No, well it does!]

The stem cells are given back and they are supposed to move into the bone marrow and set up home for themselves and turn into red cells, white cells and platelets! By using your own stem cells, it cuts down on the risk of rejection and the hope then is that the stem cells replace all the good cells that the bone marrow cancer had exterminated!

So that in essence is a very unscientific description of what a stem cell transplant is. That is what I had this month back in July 2007.

Did I mention that you tend to get very pukey during it? No? Well you do! I certainly did.

But here I am just about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant and I was wondering how I should celebrate? A trip? Flowers? Something EPIC? A treat? Some jewellery? No, none of the aforementioned.

I think I will keep it simple and just enjoy doing all the things I could not do during my time in hospital in July 2007 when I was gravely ill and when for a four week period:

I could not leave the room
I could not work
I could not eat
I could not drink
I could not see my kids
I could not spend time with my husband or go for dinner
I could not stand for long periods
I could not talk for a couple of days
I could not feel fresh air on my face
I could not walk to the shop
I could not see friends
I could not see my cat
I could not sit on my own chair
I could not look at food without feeling nausea
I could not pray
I could not hope
I could not live my ordinary life
I could not see a future

So five year's later I am going to keep the celebration simple because I can do all those simple things that I maybe took for granted for so long. Next Monday 9 July, the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant:

I will get up and go out and about
I will go to work
I will eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea
I will spend as much time as I like with my gorgeous kids
I will plan a meal out with my hubby
I will stand, run, jump, cycle
I will stand outside and feel the fresh air and most likely rain on my face
I will walk to the shop
I will rub the cat and hear her soothing purrs
I will sit on any chair I want to
I will delight in looking at food as I plan dinner
I will continue to pray
I will continue to be hopeful
I will live my ordinary life to the full
and most importantly
I will imagine, no, I will plan a future for myself!

Happy Myeloma anniversary to anyone who is kicking this type of cancer's butt. Hang in there and please God in our lifetime there will be a cure.