Monday, August 15, 2011

Is it really mid August already?

Many of you may remember the days when you would get an e-mail from me asking for a donation for the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life event.  I haven't participated in that for a few years now because, well, I've been busy with other cancer related concerns.  My transplant buddy, Linda, who passed away last month from her second relapse of AML (see my last two posts), told me about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's annual Light the Night walk, and we planned to participate together. I promised Linda and her family that I would not only beat this disease, but that I would make as much noise as possible to educate people about AML, the need for donors, the importance of research and the need for financial support.

My law firm, Lowenstein Sandler PC, has been sponsoring quarterly events for the past couple of years under a pro bono program called Lowenstein Cares.  So I thought to myself, "Self, wouldn't it be cool if Lowenstein sponsored a team for the Light the Night walk?"  I was planning to participate in Light the Night somehow, but I wasn't sure how the firm would respond to my idea.  The firm, including several individuals, many of whom I hardly know, has been beyond supportive of me, especially over these last two years.  So I shouldn't have been surprised at the speed with which the Pro Bono Program endorsed the suggestion.

We now have an official team, "Lowenstein Lights the Night" for the New Jersey and New York offices, and we even have a team for our California office, "Lowenstein Lights the Night - Palo Alto."  The New Jersey walk will be on Saturday, October 15th beginning at 5 p.m. at Headquarters Plaza in Morristown, and the California walk will be on the same day at Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto.  There are a couple of ways to participate: 

1.  Walk with us.  If you click on the red "Join" button on the bottom of either of the team pages, you will be guided to a page explaining  how to join the team.  Once you join a team, you will then be able to set up your own personal webpage, where you can set your own goal, send out donation requests and invitations to the walk, utilize templates, establish an address book and  make use of other helpful tools.  You don't have to work at Lowenstein to be part of our teams, and I highly encourage my personal local friends to join us in Morristown.  

2.  If you can't join either team as a walker, you can make a donation on one of the team webpages or on my personal webpage.  For general information about the Light the Night walk, click here.

Although the walk is only two months away, I'm optimistic that I'll make it around the two mile course by that time.  My symptoms haven't changed much since my last update -- stomach pain, lack of appetite, tremors and I'm still underweight.  I've had a few bad weeks lately, but I hope to see some improvement soon, since I was finally taken off steroids last week for the first time in eight months.  The problem with cutting down on steroids (as I've done four times now), is that the lower the dose, the more I feel like I've been hit by a bus.  They're evil that way.  But they treat flare ups of Graft vs. Host Disease, which is very serious.  GVHD is also evil, but it's a sign that remission is holding and the transplant is working.  Everything has its pros and cons in Transplant World.  The trick is to focus on the big picture, and in my case, it's very positive.  My next step is to slowly cut down on the other immunosupressant, Prograf (Tacrolimus), which is a pretty intense anti-rejection drug.  Once I'm off Prograf, I should feel stronger, eat better, and hopefully go back to work!

In the meantime, I struggle with a warped sense of time.  On the one hand, it seems like time is standing still.  My recovery is taking so much longer than I ever imagined. Every month I think I'll turn a corner and start to feel like my old self again.  But then I remember everything that I've put my body through, and I realize how resilient the human body can be.  On the other hand, I look at the calendar and can't believe that the summer's almost over.  The seasons come and go, no matter what.  And as my birthday approaches in a couple of weeks,  I remember all that I've survived this last year and where I was last August for my birthday.  Three long time friends took me out to dinner in Phoenix when I was there to move my father into an assisted living campus.  I then came home to another bone marrow biopsy.  While waiting for the results, the litigation paralegals threw me a surprise 50th birthday party at work.  By the end of the week I learned that I had relapsed and was headed for more consults, more treatment and a stem cell transplant, only to then enter the abyss of recovery.

So here I am -- a year later, happy to be here, grateful for all the love and support I've received from so many. I'll never dismiss birthdays as meaningless again.  What better way to mark the milestone than to help raise money for a cause that's so close to home?  The October walk will be here before we know it, and right behind it my 1st transplant birthday on November 17th.  What a great second chance to be young again!



  1. Nov. 17th is a big date for me as well...that's the date in 2006 I was welcomed into Memorial Sloan Kettering with a new AML diagnosis (from MDS). Looking forward to seeing you soon. We're up to the country this week, be back August 24th to catch up. JIM

  2. Kathy--Just checking in. I love your commitment to FIGHT. I have a student who is battling leukemia as well and our student body raised over $1000 in his honor. WE MUST KEEP FIGHTING.


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