Keeping Cancer At Bay

1 Jun

 

By SULEIKA JAOUAD

Photo Credit: Greg Edwards

“How are you doing?” is a complicated question for a cancer patient.

Watching for the return of cancer after a bone marrow transplant is a full-time job, even when results from the first biopsy seem hopeful. Last weekend, my doctors gave me a “pass” to leave the Hope Lodge, my temporary home in Manhattan, for a few days. It was good to have a break to travel upstate to my parents’ house. Unfortunately, I got sick to my stomach during the four-hour trip and spent most of Friday and Saturday sleeping in my childhood bedroom.

But I couldn’t help thinking of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the New York City hospital where days earlier my doctor had delivered the results of my first bone marrow biopsy since my transplant. If you had asked me how I was doing last Thursday morning — crossing Manhattan in a cab on a muggy, drizzly morning on my way to receive the test results — I would have described the sense of dread welling up inside of me. The biopsy would be the first glimpse at my new bone marrow, the foundation of my new immune system, which had been “rebuilt” with my brother Adam’s healthy stem cells during my bone marrow transplant last month. Would the cancer still be there?

Continue reading, here.

Follow @suleikajaouad on Twitter and on her Facebook Page.

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8 Responses to “Keeping Cancer At Bay”

  1. Don Weissman, MD June 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I have been reading your posts since you first appeard in the New York Times…I love reading your thoughts and simple offer all my love (spiritual energy) and support with the hope and confidence you will win and prevail as an incredible inspiration to all and so many …thank you and WIN!..yes you will ..with great love and support.. Dr.Don

  2. Julie Harris June 1, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    I don’t know if this will help, but I have been through chemotherapy and a cancer diagnosis, and I have a wonderful team of healers which include a nutritionist and a medical herbalist who have worked with cancer patients for several decades. They were able to give me a protocol of nutraceuticals, supplements, and proprietary herbal blends which kept me from having some of the worst symptoms of chemo, while helping build my immune system and keep my own cancer at bay. It’s been almost 4 years since my diagnosis, and I feel better than I ever have in my life. I attribute a great deal of this good health to my natural healers, as well as to my superb oncologist.

    I would so like to help you in some way … perhaps some of these things on the protocol would lessen your nausea and help to strengthen your immune system? I don’t know how to reach you, and I hesitate to put contact information on the web, but if you think it might help, respond to this message and tell me how I might be of help.

    You are always in our thoughts here in North Carolina, and in our prayers. Your story has touched many people.

    Julie

    • suleikajaouad June 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      I am always eager to learn more about these types of protocols. Please feel free to email me: secrcetsofcancerhood [at] gmail.com

      Thanks, Julie!

  3. André Nogueira June 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    You are an inspiration to young women. Love and blessings to you.

  4. Benjamin June 4, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    Sorry Suleika, but this is one of the many survivorship issues that you will face.
    I am 32 and have been cancer free from NonHodgkins for 9 years now. Every year when it is time for the lab work or the scan, those same feelings of dread and anxiety errupt inside me.
    It could be your very first scan or biopsy, or your 100th. They will always feel the same because you know how hard you worked to be where you are at and where you dont want to be ever again.
    Sorry if it sounds negative. Just being honest.
    Best wishes
    Benjamin

    • suleikajaouad June 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      I appreciate your honesty. Thank you, Benjamin.

  5. Rich June 5, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    I used to approach my CAT scans and especially my doctors appointments to get the results with great angst. I’d sit in the waiting area with a nervous churning and dark thinking in my stomach and head. At first, I’d live from scan to scan, with them barely out of my mind during the 3 month intervals. This had a definite affect on my family and me. I was not fun to be around during the week prior to the test. With continued good news I graduated to 4 and now 6 month intervals. My epiphany came about a year ago when I was still on a 4 month cycle of tests. I finally decided it was not worth it to fear the tests and appointments. Mine were coming up clear and I realized the tests did not cause a cancer to reappear, or not. Having the test had no impact on what was there, they were a tool to find something if it appeared. In that sense they became a good thing, no matter the outcome. If clear, great, if not, now we would know and take action. Getting to that point in my head lowered my stress level significantly. It did not happen automatically, it was as if a light bulb turned on above my head one day in the waiting room. How long I will continue to get good news, I know not. But until then, life is much easier. You are far from being ready to take this approach but I hope that with good reports to come, you can get there.

    Be strong,
    Rich

  6. Bill Connellee June 6, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Keep strong, Suleika!

    Today my wife is at day 2521 from her BMT — nearly 7 years. The only things that have kept her sane since she left Hope Lodge from Moffitt/Tampa are her determination and her sense of humor.

    At one point she got one of those stick-on tatoos from one of the grandkids and put it on her bald head and then put on one of the many, many scarves she had received (fake hair is fake hair). When she got to the BMT clinic the PA asked her what she had done that weekend. She said, “I went out and had some fun — look” and whipped off the scarf. I think the poor man almost had a heart attack. 🙂

    Godspeed.

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