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A woman looking at different cards for life milestones and seeing one for her stem cell transplant birthday

Turning 10…Again!

Celebrating life’s milestones is part of our DNA. When walking down the card aisle in any drug store, the variety of cards displayed remind us of the important occasions we commemorate: birthdays, engagements, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, the birth of a child, retirement, and buying your first home to name a few. Scrolling through the pictures posted on Instagram or on a Facebook news feed reinforces the fact that we love to recognize these special events.

Turning double digits

One of the first milestones I remember celebrating is turning double digits. Turning 10 was marked with a huge party and a brand spanking new 10 speed kelly green Schwinn bicycle. I remember blowing out the candles on my cake. That year I had the number “10” along with 11 individual candles to blow out. (Mom always put an extra candle on my birthday cake for good luck) Turning ten was a BIG deal.

New cancer milestones

Milestones developed even more significance when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.  When I was first diagnosed, I was frightened. The prognosis for someone like me was 29 months. My only daughter was a freshman in college.  I knew I wanted to be there to see her graduate from college in 48 months.  Would that be possible? Being present at my daughter’s college graduation gave me reason to empower myself to learn all I could about my cancer and the treatment options available to me. I wanted to do everything possible to be there on her graduation day. The milestone of my daughter’s graduation gave the strength to move forward and defy the odds.

Milestones and cancer go hand in hand.  Not only do individuals living with a cancer diagnosis celebrate the common milestones mentioned above, they have a new set of milestones to acknowledge. For a myeloma patient, two of the most common cancer milestones are the date of diagnosis (cancerversary), and the anniversary of a stem cell transplant (re-birthday).

recognizing cancer milestones is personal

We choose to recognize these important dates in our own way. Some of my fellow survivors have run marathons or skied treacherous slopes.  Others have traveled to beloved destinations. I have friends who have organized fundraisers that raised thousands of dollars for myeloma research to commemorate significant milestones and others who reflected quietly at home with family. There is no correct way to recognize these life-changing dates. We each are unique individuals so we each acknowledge these events in the ways that best fit our lives.

Since my myeloma diagnosis, I have retired from teaching 5th graders and have become a teacher in the myeloma community. I sought and found a renewed purpose in life. I cherish my new role as a patient advocate. It gives my life meaning.

10 year anniversary of my stem cell transplant

I turned 10 AGAIN this year.  February 26 marked the 10th anniversary of my stem cell transplant.  Each year, I honor this significant day in a special way. It is only fitting that I celebrated my 10th re-birthday by traveling to Silver Springs, MD to give patient testimony at an Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) meeting for Selinexor at the FDA. This was an important meeting for the myeloma community. Selinexor’s potential FDA approval will be discussed and evaluated. Patient testimony is pivotal. I am honored to have represented the collective patient voice at the ODAC meeting. Turning 10 again is a BIG deal and I am doing it in a BIG way… my way!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Deb Wesloh moderator
    3 months ago

    Great story. I am intrigued by the stem cell transplant process. Up until just recently I did not know that your DNA changes following a transplant. I have polycythemia vera so I do have a slight risk of it morphing into another more serious cancer called myelofibrosis or even leukemia. If this does occur a transplant will be in my future. I think it’s awesome that you’ve become an advocate. Very inspiring!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    You are doing amazing – congratulations! You have done so much – good for you!! Here’s to the next 10 years

  • Crystal Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    A huge congrats on ten years, that is absolutely worth celebrating! I think you should get a new birthday cake with those eleven candles again, just like your mom did for you since it seems like that last candle definitely brought you some good luck!

  • Ronni Gordon moderator
    3 months ago

    Congratulations! When I saw the headline I thought that maybe I had written the post and forgotten, because I also turned 10 this year. (Stem cell transplant for acute myeloid leukemia.)

  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    Congratulations to you too!

  • amber.lynch moderator
    3 months ago

    Congratulations on 10 years! Milestones indeed become more significant. I am looking forward to turning 1in a few months.

  • jneurms
    3 months ago

    This is terrific. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Racheli Alkobey moderator
    3 months ago

    I LOVE this. I am a huge supporter of celebrating ALL milestones. I have special little traditions for every aspect of my cancer journey- from diagnosis to remission and everything in between! I have a tradition for the day I was diagnosed, because however daunting that day might be, it was the first step to my healing.

    Thank you for sharing this enlightening part of your journey and I hope that you’ve had an amazing decade so far and cheers to many MANY more xoxo

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