A Letter to My CML

Not so Dear CML,

You suck. I wish you’d go away and leave me alone. Yours truly, Susan.

Only kidding. If you wrote a letter to your blood cancer, what would you say? I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately. I’ll tell you why.

I find myself yelling at myself and my limitations. I also chastise the side effects I experience from having chronic myeloid leukemia and taking the TKI called Sprycel. None of it is pretty.

Am I alone?

The other day, I was struggling to get out of my car and I yelled at myself, “I’m sick of you! Why don’t you just leave me alone?”

I was looking at my leg at the time, the hip of which had raging pain at that moment - making it difficult to stand.

Thank God, no one was around to hear me. That got me thinking. Am I losing it? Why am I yelling at my leg as if it is a separate part of me?

The next week, I pulled a muscle in my back (not sure how) and it resulted in tiring trips to the doctor, little to no sleep, and more tongue lashings.

“Hurry up. Go! Why are you so ^%$#@ slow?” I asked, hobbling around my apartment in pain and not getting what I want done.

A letter to my CML

Okay, so back to the letter. My first line above kind of sums up my thoughts but here I go again.

Dear CML,

No one knows why you decided to insert yourself into my life six years ago and I guess we’ll never know. Now that you are here, there are a few things you need to know.

For one thing, on most days, you are messing around with the wrong chick.

I’m going to try to push you aside and go about my day and get things done. You will hurt me and make me sick most of the time but I will fight you. Believe me, I will.

I’m going to make it to my exercise program three times per week. If that interferes with your plans to weaken me and zap my physical strength, too bad. You lose.

To be fair, CML, you have brought more to my life than misery. You’ve opened up my eyes to a lot and made me appreciate things more than I did before.

You’ve helped me to identify who my genuine support system is and see whose relationships with me weren’t as solid as I believed.

You’ve made me more emotional, more willing to express myself verbally and in writing and you’ve taught me to stand up and advocate for myself with doctors and people in my life.

And, you are leading me in a direction career-wise that I never envisioned before. It is not enough for me to only write about whatever I’m assigned anymore—from newspapers, trade journals, magazines, etc. In the scheme of things, how important are they?

If I’m going to use my words and communication skills, they should be for a higher, meaningful purpose.

I’m not saying that to sound like a conceited jerk but instead because it is what I believe.

If I can help one person learn about leukemia and what it entails, that’s special.

If I can offer words of encouragement and support to someone with blood cancer, I will gladly do it.

So CML, my companion through life, you’ve stripped me of so many things—my energy, my mobility, and sometimes, my joy.

But I begrudgingly thank you for what you’ve given me. You’ve provoked this change in direction, this shift in perspective, and inspired me to wake up.

I’m definitely tougher thanks to you and I won’t let you knock me down without a fight. So, prepare yourself.

Yours truly, Susan.

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