Monday, August 04, 2008

Cautiously Optimistic

At Friday's long-awaited clinic visit with my main transplant doctor, we got the results from Monday's bone marrow biopsy:

"No evidence of disease".

In other words, no leukemia. No cancer. Gone.

This is worth a cheer. It's been interesting to me to watch people's reactions to this news. Across the board, people are jubilant, utterly giddy. I hear their (silent) sighs of relief that this is over, finally. It's fun being the bearer of good news.

A friend of mine has as her "Religious Views" on that she is "cautiously optimistic". I think that phrase would best characterize how I feel about the biopsy results. There are nine months until I'm one-year post-transplant, when I can actually contact my donor to thank her for saving my life. The reason for this one year delay is because risks are rife still and will continue to be for my entire life. In other words, it's not so cool if you find out the chick you donated marrow to kicked the bucket six months after she flew out to Warsaw to give you an appreciation hug. And the graft-versus-host-disease I have still mystifies my medical team as I suffer through their various drug attempts at remedy.

Of course, that whole "kick the bucket" thing is not going to happen for another, oh I'd say sixty years, but I have definitely become more than a little jaded about the concept of being "cancer free". The biggest fear is relapse. Who do you think has a better chance of developing leukemia (or a host of other fun cancers due to the treatments), me or any schmuck you pull off the street? Relapsing was more jarring to my sense of the world than original diagnosis. Coming home from yoga, planning my March 08 celebration of end of treatment, to find my sister on my bed in Boston with tears and news that my last biopsy... that memory resonates all too clearly and frequently. I have learned you cannot assume anything.
And, plus, who among us is "cancer free"? Who hasn't worried about standing too close to the microwave or wondered if it's true that anti-perspirant causes breast cancer? Who doesn't know someone who's died of the disease? We all face it every day, in our own ways.

So, yes, the biopsy results confirmed what other indications had suggested- no trace of leukemia. I remain cautiously optimistic. It's the best that I can do.


Hopers said...

I will cautiously and optimistically offer you my heartfelt congratulations. Please let me know when and where to send you some celebratory cupcakes. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Miss E, I'm going straight to OVER-THE-TOP JUBILANT at this news! Give me a minute and maybe I'll settle down to "cautiously optimistic" ;-) Thinking of you every day.

Love, Addie

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I have been following your progress and was anxiously awaiting your update. Remain positive...there are people pulling for you out there!

Jaci said...

here's how it's gonna go now... you'll come home from yoga, and i will be sitting on your bed (in Manhattan), and there will be tears in my eyes from all the giggles and giddy jokes that only we can share! i can't wait.. i love you, Old Same.

christina said...

so very happy for you...cautiously and optimistically.

Ms. Schrepfer said...

WOO HOO!!!!!

Anna said...

Cautiously Optimistic is a good place to be. This is good news! Here's to continued recovery xoxox

Georg, Stephanie & Liam said...

Thank you for sharing and allowing your blog family to comfort you and celebrate in this news with you. We know the waiting game all too well, aftering going through the same experience with my husbands brother four years ago this July. We offer all our positive energy to you and send optimistic hugs and kisses your way!

Anonymous said...

SCREW being "cautiously optimistic!!! That is AWESOME news!! Yes!!

Your cousin,


p.s. - maybe now they'll come up with a memory booster for us old fogies who can't remember the name of that disease where you forget everything - what is it again? ;D

Raul said...

Truly great news, Erica. I am glad that you have entered the 'cautiously optimistic' phase. In time, I have no doubt that the 'optimistic' part will become more resonant than the 'cautious' part.

John said...

that's such very good news erica. your words are wise, 2-years of leukemia will do that to you - and we all have been affected...somehow. i wish you continued success, and hope the next 6-months flies by; allowing you to truly delve into enjoying the next 60+ years thereafter.

Nancy said...

This is great news and cause for celebration. It's what we want to hear at this stage. It's a great start and we just hope for the same news year after year. Being Cautiously optimistic is okay. But, rejoice in the "cancer-free" news every time!!!! love, nancy

Anonymous said...


I am so happy to hear of your latest prognosis. I totally understand your need for cautious optimism, but I agree with Nancy on this one...rejoice rejoice rejoice! I will continue to pray for you and still thank you for being the amazing person that you are!!

All my best,

ps. how's that puzzle coming along ;p

Anonymous said...

Hip hip hooray Erica! That is fantastic news. I really needed to read this because it has been a really rough time for our fellow cancer fighters that I've been keeping tabs on. You are such an inspiration to me.

Much love,

Anonymous said...

cautiously euphoric! happy to have read the news! congratulations!

hugs and kisses from Aachen,

Anonymous said...

Wow that's excellent news Erica, we are so so happy for you.

Our love and very best wishes, Claire and Bonnie xx

Anonymous said...

I'm smiling for you Erica! Just take it one day at a time is what I tell myself. Everyone has uncertainty in their life regarding their mortality. We are just more aware of it!!

Love you,
Natasha from Louisville

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC WONDERFUL NEWS ERICA!!! SOOO excited and happy for you.
With lots of Hugs to you!!
Doreen Marr and Family

Anonymous said...


san f. aug. 18.




artineh said...

YAY!! I'm SO excited for you. At long last. I hope we can celebrate together soon.


Anonymous said...

Erica, still great news. Smiling about the news in Ukraine, Tom

Christine said...

I've been watching and praying from afar all this time. I am writing today to send my love and support. I am two-and-a-half years post transplant and also have Chronic GVH, but it's fading away. GVH does get better with time, and over time, it eventually "burns itself out". You're a beautiful girl and you're going to continue your beautiful life. Celebrate your 100th Day and everything you still have. It truly is a blessing.

With love,
Christine Pechera

Corinne said...

congratulations to you and your donor. I'll remain cautiously optimistic for you, but I'm also going to add on a touch of happiness and relief.
All the Best,


Georg, Stephanie & Liam said...

Cautiously Hopeful & Optimistic!

Saba said...

Yay Erica! Onwards!!!

kanigma said...

It is really great to hear that everything has gone well. This was a nice blog post to end the night on.

Anonymous said...

Hola niƱa linda!

Such great news! Que Dios continue bendiciendote!

I'm sorry to write with such delay (i'm in DR). However I'm thrilled to hear the news and will celebrate with mami, Michelle, Raquel and Pablo.

Muchos besos,


Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! I'm a family friend of Michelle Maykin (she's currently battling AML) and found your bio on the AADP site where her's is posted as well. Although we've never met, I was really drawn to you (maybe it was the kick-arse YouTube video!) :) My mother-in-law had both lymphoma & leukemia, unfortunately, she lost her battle. Its great to hear that you beat it. You go girl!!

Dasha said...

Great news, Erica!!! Thank you for this update. Cautiously optimistically keeping my fingers crossed for you for the next 9 months :))) xoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

woohooo!!!!! i am thrilled! you can be cautiously optimistic all you want. I'm ecstatic.


Anonymous said...

YAY! While I totally understand that "cautiously optimistic" is the best you can muster (I've been a lifelong Red Sox fan, after all) - I want to remind you that right NOW. In THIS MOMENT. YOU, Erica, are cancer FREE.

And in this moment...and in this one...and right now...and... :)

love, gab

O.D.B. said...

Awesome news! You are simply a super-hero.
I'll be cautiously optimistic that the blogging will continue too because, well, I've loved your writing, no matter what the topic.

shannon said...

i'm so happy for you. and your family. no one can say what the future holds... but today - rejoice!
much love & peace,
shannon jerger

Nick said...

What I don't need to be cautiously optimistic about is that you are going to continue to live you life to the fullest degree, no matter what the circumstance.

Keep on keepin on...

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Anita said...

Life is good and you living a long, healthy life is even better.

Tears sting my eyes as I belatedly rejoice with you and all of us who love you. My heart is singing praises of gratitude for each day of your healing.

Now I can tell you that I never doubted that this announcement would come. Not even a second of worry came into my mind. I just knew your work was not finished.

I also knew we would all get to share long times of laughter, the world would benefit from your vital crusades of change, and a little girl will one day soon look at you with admiration as she pledges to be just like you.

Thanks for your love, mine is held especially for you.

Susan and Judy said...

i am a little behind on reading your blog but this is great news, erica, and you write it so well.

sending love, as ever, from sydney