365 Days of Life

Sunset.  Foto Credit: Dave
Sunset.
Photo Credit: Dave

Today is a special and emotional day.  A year ago, on September 16 of 2014, I was in the hospital with Dave and my parents patiently waiting for the harvested bone marrow cells my brave sister Caro donated on a pure act of unconditional and endless love to save my life.  I am forever grateful to Caro, Dave, my parents, sister Cris, my in-laws, Marsha, brother-in-law Rafa, my friends, colleagues, and extended family for their prayers and support.

The fact that today I was able to run more than three miles at my fastest pace on record is a result of a joint effort and countless hours of care from my family and the talented team at Johns Hopkins.

Thank you to the love of my life, Dave, for serving as the Caregiver-in-Chief who made sure I had everything I needed to get back on my feet.  You are my inspiration, my everything.  I love you!

Thank you so much Marsha for sharing your expertise as a nurse to take care of me during the tough first period of post-transplant.  I am incredibly thankful to my mother-in-law, Kathy, who dedicated over two months to take care of me and helped us with multiple chores at home, you have served to remind me that love and family matter the most.  Thank you to my father-in-law, Terry, for his support, patience, and humor during extremely challenging times.  Thank you to Dr. Kanakry, Laura, Dr. Bolanos-Meade, Viki, Laura, and Lynne.

Thank you to all my friends and colleagues who shared their love and encouragement in multiple creative and thoughtful ways.

Although this year hasn’t been easy, I am thankful for the gift of life and the opportunity of having a future free of disease. I am certain God has a plan and a mission for me (God, this is just a reminder that I am here, I am listening, I am ready, show me the way….)

Today I celebrate life!

Thank you for reading

Grateful and in Remission!

Enjoying a beautiful day @ Chesapeake Bay
Enjoying a beautiful day @ Chesapeake Bay

After 10 days of anxiously waiting for my scan results, my oncologist said the word we were praying to hear “Remission”.

We are grateful, happy, and excited to leave in the past these very challenging three years and a half. It was a long and difficult road that taught us the importance of having a support network of friends and family, the critical role of healthy eating and exercise to heal the body and to keep it strong. We witnessed and experienced the power of prayers, hope, and faith. And certainly we are blessed with the gifts of life and love.

I am no longer the same person and now I am on a mission to create a better version of myself.  I know and believe I have a grater and bigger purpose in life to accomplish.

Certainly, life is about the moments and relationships we create, it is about enjoying the time with family and friends, it is about overcoming difficulties and leaving the past behind. Life is about seeking balance, practicing kindness, being grateful, and pursuing a better version of yourself.

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers, for giving me strength and hope when I needed it the most. May this experience serve as a reminder that life is a precious gift.

Thank you for reading and may God bless us all.

Love,

-Bea

100 Days on Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Happy 2015!

May this new year bring health, opportunities, harmony, and peace to all of us.

I am grateful for starting a new year surrounded by family and friends. I value the support received and the lessons learned in 2014. Most importantly I am grateful for the gift of life.

During the Holidays, my parents and sister Cris visited and spent Christmas with us. We had a great time and celebrated the fact that on Christmas Day I reached 100 days post-transplant.  And to conclude the holiday season, we welcomed  the new year with my in-laws.
Christmas with Family

These 100+ days haven’t been easy but I have been patient. I am still in risk of infection and dealing with side effects on my skin associated with   Graft Versus Host Disease – a common consequence of the life-saving bone marrow transplants.- However, I started walking and running again, I am not struggling with daily nausea anymore, my hair started to grow back, I am tired but it is manageable, and I will go back  to work on January 5; all things considered I am in good shape.

I feel hopeful and I am looking forward to a great and positive year.

Love – Bea

70 Days – Grateful

Today is my day 70 post bone marrow transplant.

On day 60 I was discharged from the transplant unit and instead of going to the hospital daily or every other day,  I go only once a week now. My oncologist says that I am doing well and everything looks according to the plan.

I am taking many different medicines to keep my immune system healthy. Each day I feel much better and stronger, I even started jogging and walking again. I can’t wait to start running again soon.

My hair is starting to grow.
My hair is starting to grow.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, an opportunity to give thanks, spend time with family, and remember what is really important in life: love and gratitude.

Therefore, I would like to thank my loving husband, my mother and father-in-law, and Marsha who took the time and spent countless hours in the hospital and at home taking care of me. I will be always grateful for your support, patience, and love.

Also I am very grateful and fortunate to have incredible parents and sisters. Caro saved my life and now we share an even more special sister bond. I love you sister 🙂  My parents have been fundamental in creating an entire network of prayers, good energy, and positive attitude. This group of family and friends has kept me strong and positive. I am very grateful for their support and love; believe me, it does make a difference!!

With B we Beat It!, Tagline of the video campaign Cris organized.  Thank you!
With B we Beat It!, Tagline of the video campaign Cris organized.  Thank you!

A couple of weeks ago I received a beautiful care packet from my sister Cris. It was a beautiful surprise that included books, a movie, and a video with the campaign “With B, we Beat it!” a series of uplifting, fun, and great messages from family, friends, and others that sent encouraging words to me. Thank you very much to all that participated. A special thanks to my cousin Nane and my friend Monica who helped Cris and Daniel to collect the videos. Thank you Nayelli for the logo and design. Thank you Cris for producing the video that lifted my spirit when I needed it the most.
Today I am particularly grateful for the gift of friendship and love.

Happy Thanksgiving / Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias!!!

And remember to give thanks 🙂

Love,

Bea

September 16 – My Second Birthday

September 16, 2014 is my second birthday thanks to my brave sister Caro who donated bone marrow to save my life. Caro is now in the list of real heroes. Thank you sis, I love you. 🙂

Today I am feeling well, just tired and have been experiencing nausea.

Dave’s aunt Marsha, and my parents have been helping us out and taking care of me and my sister while we recover.

I want to thank all our dear friends and family that have been praying, helping, and thinking about us during this time.

A special thanks to my husband Dave, he is my everything. I couldn’t do this without his love, support, and humor.

Thank you for reading and I will keep you posted on my road back to full health.

Love,
Bea

Towards a Bone Marrow Transplant

I need a new immune system since mine no longer recognizes and attacks cancer cells; that is why on September 16, 2014 I am going to have a bone marrow transplant at Johns Hopkins. My amazing sister Caro is my donor!!!

A bone marrow transplant looks like a regular blood transfusion. The difference is that this procedure provides a cure for many types of blood cancers and saves lives. The transplant entails taking healthy cells from a compatible donor and infuse those into the bloodstream of the patient. In order to prepare the patient for the transplant high dose chemo and radiation are required.to replace the old and defective cells.  After the transplant the patient has a high risk of infection and needs to be isolated, wear a mask, and be extremely careful with potential sources of external infections.

The type of transplant I will have is called a haplo, half, or mini. This is an option for patients like me that don’t have a donor who is 100% match but have relatives that are 25% or above compatible. Before my transplant on Tuesday I have to do 5 days of chemo and 1 day of full body radiation. Today is my day No.2 of chemo and I am feeling well, just a bit tired.

These days I have a lot of mixed feelings, sometimes I am positive and hopeful and others I am just plain scared about everything. I am living one day at a time and thinking about what I want to do once I am healthy again and free to live my life free of this disease.

I am reading the book “Raw Faith” from cancer survivor Kasey Van Norman a great resource that is helping me to strengthen my faith; something I need so much right now.

Thank you for reading, thank you for the prayers, the positive energy, and encouragement.

I will keep you posted!

Love, Bea

PD. Before the chemo gets all my hair. I cut it short.

Short Hair Again