14

Fourteen years ago this week I was first diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).
Not too many years ago that would have been impossible to state. I have to remind myself of that fact every time I rant about how this country is no longer able to put people on the moon. If there is one area in which the promise of the future has been fulfilled, it has been in medicine.

But we still have a long way to go.

At the time of my diagnosis is August, 2000 I was told that expectancy to survive ten years was extremely high. Ok, not quite the news I wanted to hear but it was still reassuring that I was in no immediate danger of being able to answer the immortal question of “What is this all about anyway?”

Ove the 14 years I did undergo chemo therapy and while it was not a picnic, I was able to work and continue a relatively normal lifestyle. Of course, my theory has always been that it was work, particularly the two places I worked when chemo was prescribed, that was the ultimate cause of my ill health. I solved that dilemma by arriving at my current position where there are no “carriers” of the ill health bug. There is no one who makes me sick is what I am trying to say.

Now going into my 15th year and having been declared in remission for the last seven years, I strive to take advantage of my recovery and remission. I don’t want to waste surviving. I try to think of that every time I am walking from the train to the subway and it is not always easy. Old habits die harder than we do. But I catch myself and then try to focus on the beauty and the loving that makes up my life.

I had a great event a couple of weeks ago when I gave my talk at the East Hampton Library. It wasn’t so much the talk as the party afterwards. My family and friends all came back and we had a great time. More material was provided for the next book and new stories were certainly created.

I am not sure the book or that party would have happened had it not been for 14. It’s crazy to say, and it is not the first time I have said it, but getting CLL was a blessing. It freed me of the burden of mindless, arrogant people and they were quickly eschewed and replacements are never ordered or accepted.

I used to say in 2000 that it was still better than 1999. Only a few of my readers, who were my colleagues back then, will understand the reference.

2014 is better still.

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