One year ago today, July 27th, 2010, I received the life-changing phone call that a donor had been confirmed and that my transplant date was set. All of us have those personal anniversaries, the days when something significant happened (maybe only to you, maybe to those around you) and you can recall with unnerving clarity everything about that day. This day impacted my husband, family and friends, not just me. The goings-on of this day one year ago are more clear in my mind than days only a few weeks ago. Where I was, who I was with, what we were doing. I remember sitting in the back of my mother-in-law's car receiving that phone call. Feeling a mind boggling combination of extreme fear and hopeful excitement. Calling my parents. Calling Phil. Calling the long list of friends and family. Writing here. Crying.
One year ago my donor-angel confirmed that YES, he would donate his marrow to me, a stranger, and confirmed the date of his surgery (for new readers: he consented to a traditional marrow extraction via 100 holes in his pelvic bone- 50 on each side- as opposed to apheresis stem cell extraction via blood filtering), the date which would give me life back. Or, perhaps, gave me a new life entirely.
Over the last 11 months I've thought quite a bit (understatement of the century) about this man and his decision. About his family. There are moments when the reality of his gift, and the sacrifices he and his loved ones made to give me this gift, become overwhelmingly clear. I would be lying if I didn't also share that there are many times when I simply cannot think about it. Can't take it in. That I feel unworthy of such a sacrifice from a stranger and that I am absolutely indebted to this man and the universe which set this all in motion. Embarrassed, almost. Yeah, I know, that sounds bizarre. Why would I feel embarrassed about my donor's choice? Well, because, as I said, I don't feel worthy of this kind of gift. Honestly, most of the time I feel incredibly uncomfortable with the generosity and kindness of those in my life, of which P and I have experienced to the max these last few years. I feel so extremely grateful that it aches inside. Why was I given a second chance? Why do I have the honor of calling these people friends and family? Why have we been afforded such love and kindness? Why me and not someone else in my place?
There are many times I've written before asking the question 'Why me?' and curtly answered, 'Why not me'. Well, I'm not certain that this is the correct answer here. In this circumstance, I have no answer, only the intense feeling of obligation to pay this forward. That maybe, just maybe, this is a call for me to dedicate myself to supporting others on this terrible journey. Some of those 'others', I am devastatingly sad to say, are friends. More importantly though, I hope to give support to those I will never know.
As it stands, my Team FD has, with the stunning generosity of nearly twenty separate donors, exceeded the initial goal of sending one FDer to their first camp. That sum was $1,000. Today, total donations stand at $1,550. Amazing. For my part, with my steadily healing feet firmly under me, I have completed 300 Sun Salutations. This affords me about five weeks to reach my goal of performing 1,000 Sun Salutations before Labor Day 2011. I was never great with math in school so...let's just say I'll have some darn impressive upper arm muscles to debut at work...:)
Thank you, Donor. I've hardly the words to express what today feels like. I hope with all my being that in a month's time I will be able to express my gratitude in person. Tears, I think, can say so much more than words on a page (or computer screen, as it were).