July 22, 2013 (Monday) 5 Year Bone Marrow Transplant Anniversary : Living It Up In Lincroft
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July 22, 2013 (Monday) 5 Year Bone Marrow Transplant Anniversary

by Sheri Nocelli on 07/22/13

This morning I folded my kids’ laundry, playfully chased my dogs around and cleaned under my bed. I dusted some picture frames, watered the tomato plants and took a long cool shower. Today I played battleship with my son, and did crafts with my daughter before we went for a swimming extravaganza for the rest of the day.

Five years ago today, I received a transfusion of new bone marrow cells and was given a second chance at life. Five years ago, I couldn’t go near plants due to neutropenia (extremely low white cells), couldn’t take a shower by myself and didn’t have the energy to bend over to look under the bed, or climb the stairs – let alone run or swim. I couldn’t go near my children for weeks at a time for fear of my weak immune system catching something. It’s amazing how much time can change the circumstances of your life.

Today is considered my 5th birthday; my blood and marrow has been growing and flourishing for five years, refreshing my body, giving me a fresh cancer free start. I have seen and experienced things in my lifetime that no one should ever have to endure. I’ve learned about this whole other universe of bone marrow biopsies, spinal taps, blood counts, chemotherapies, hospital living, graft versus host disease and bone marrow transplants– things that used to equate to a foreign language to me until I was submersed in them in the blink of an eye and expected to adjust. I accustomed myself to this world; became a citizen for a short time of this odd civilization and learned about all of these things in order to survive. – I’ve since moved out of this place, but the memories, lessons and experiences live forever in my being.

I woke up this morning in the midst of a horrible dream; I was in the familiar scene of a hospital room wearing a paper gown and pushing an IV pole. A doctor and nurse came into my room telling me it was time for a test, laid me on the gurney and proceeded to run a thick plastic tub in the right side of my mouth. I squirmed in severe pain and discomfort as they snaked this tube far down my throat. My reflexes kicked in, as I started to choke, with the back of my tongue on this alien object – unable to speak or regurgitate it – trapped by its presence in my body.

Then I woke up. I often have random medical themed dreams where I am being poked, prodded and invaded, even if they are scenarios I never actually experienced – like this particular dream which was a complete conjuration of my imagination. While these dreams plague me, and tip my mental stability for a few hours, I have learned to do my best to forget them and move on with my day. This is part of my mental recovery process. I don’t think about or harp on my cancer battle – at all. So, it’s probably my subconscious way of dealing with the trauma of what I have lived through, since I refuse to waste a waking minute on the whole ordeal. Maybe natures form of therapy?

Sometimes it feels like eons ago that I went through my cancer fight – sometimes I feel like it never happened at all. When I see the bald pictures from the time, I feel like I’m looking at someone else. When I tell the story of the time to people, I feel like I’m talking about another woman. But I’m not – and it hits me at this point, that it’s me. I went through this. I had cancer. But then I remind myself, I beat cancer.

In celebration of my 5 year bone marrow transplant anniversary, I wrote my memoir, “Life, Love… Leukemia” which officially is released today. I chose this date purposely in celebration of life, and of winning the war with cancer.

It’s a strange feeling to know that my life is now written in a book, published and sitting on bookshelves nationwide. I have moments where I feel odd, knowing that my whole life is public knowledge – but that feeling dissipates pretty quickly when I get emails and reviews from strangers who thank me for sharing my story with them. I have received emails from cancer patients, their caregivers and even people who are healthy who all are thanking me for inspiring them in some way. Cancer fighters thank me for inspiring them to fight harder, their caregivers have thanked me for opening a door into the mind of the patient, allowing them to understand a little clearer what it’s like from our point of view. Mostly the emails I receive are from healthy individuals who thank me for reminding them to not sweat the small stuff – life could always be worse and to live everyday like it’s your last… it could be after all. I am overwhelmed by the heartfelt support from everyone on "Life, Love… Leukemia” and thank everyone who has opened their hearts to my story and allowed it to touch your life in some way.

Today my heart is with my incredible friends and family, who supported us through my battle and beyond, with my amazing Doctor who was the mastermind in my cancer war and especially to my bone marrow doner, Kerry, for your amazing gift to a stranger, I will never be able to thank you enough.Today is a day to reflect, but to also move on. While five years is an amazing milestone, now I have to look forward to the future. The past has molded me into the person I am today – which I am forever grateful for. However, I can’t wait to see what the future has to hold, and what treasures and experiences are waiting behind the next bend in the road.

(Above) Exactly 5 years ago today, this is me receiving the bone marrow transplant.

(Above) This is the bag containing my new marrow cells, which flourished in my body, and allowed me a second chance.

(Above) The promotional picture for my memoir which is released *today* "Life, Love... Leukemia"

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