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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life after the transplant

I thought I would sit down and condense some of my story, of what happened after the life changing experience of having a bone marrow transplant. I still say that I would not wish the experience on anyone, but my life after the fact was more blessed.  It was an experience that made me wish so much to stay alive that I think I felt everything more intensely afterwards. 

Just a few months after I was finished treatment, I was sent to a fertility specialist, who confirmed my worse fears, I would never have children.  The confirmation was devastating, and back then I was not offered any thing like freezing my eggs before the transplant.  The unit was brand new in Halifax, and it just was not discussed.

I went back to St. F.X. in the fall of 1993, but it just was not the same.  I struggled with wanting to be there, I felt like school was now a waste of time for me, I wanted to get on with "real life" and many who were the same age as me seemed so immature with their partying and lack of direction.  Now of course, I wish I could have gone back to school and been as carefree as many others were, but things had changed.  Many tried to convince me to stay, and I did until the end of the year, but I felt kind of lost, and did not know what to do with my life any more.  It is one of my only regrets in life, I wish I had finished, I wish I had an "X" ring to put on my finger, it feels like something that just went unfinished. 

But then I fell in love.  Tim and I actually started dating when I was still bald and puffy from the steroids, so you know it must have been real love.  We got engaged in 1994, and married at the young age of 22 in 1995.  We were away on a trip to the United States late in 1996 when I began feeling rundown.  I thought maybe the rigors of the trip were making me tired, as I was falling asleep every where, but Tim was worried that I was getting sick again and that my counts were down.  As a lark one night in a hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, I did a pregnancy test, and it was positive.  I sent Tim out to a local drugstore, and he landed back with two more, and two more positives.  We sat perched on the end of the bed staring at the results, scared of getting excited, and really not knowing what to thing.  The first thing the next morning we were off to a medical clinic on Blue Ridge Road(funny how some details stay with you), where they confirmed the test again, but said given my history, I better get myself checked out with my doctors.  We left for Nova Scotia that very day.  Every doctor seemed baffled, and warned us that we likely would not carry a healthy baby, and they seemed to be right as complication after complication seemed to pop up.  But against all odds, I carried my baby for nine months, and then we were warned "it" would not be healthy, or that I would not be able to deliver.  Again, we proved them all wrong.  Thomas Mitchell Murphy was born on June 28, 1997, absolutely perfect and healthy.  I remember on the 29th a doctor coming in and saying, "Well, I don't know how this happened, but it will never happen again."  Two years later on June 30th, Nathanial Bernard Murphy joined the Murphy ranks, and was again, in a word, perfect.

I had everything I had ever dreamed of when I was sick.  A husband who loved me, and children of my own who made me feel love that overwhelmed me on every level.  But what else was in store for me in this journey of life?  More things that I ever imagined, and I will continue to share our journey right here next time. 

But before I go today, I would like to ask you to think about something, and that is to register to become a bone marrow transplant.  There are many people right across the country right now who are searching for a match.  You now know some of my story, and how blessed I was that my sister, Virginia was a match.  I often will stop and think, " I wonder who is in the bone marrow unit in Halifax today, and I wonder how they are doing."  Last night on Facebook I learned about another mom of two who is looking for a match right now, you might be the person who gives her family the gift of life.  To register you can go to www.blood.ca and find out how to become a donor, and now it is as easy as receiving a kit in the mail and swabbing your cheek and sending the kit back in the mail.  Not even a blood test like it use to be.  And if you are a match?  There will be some blood work and other tests to make sure you are a good match before they harvest your bone marrow.  And the procedure now to do that is so non-invasive that you are in and out in a morning.  But the gift of life that you give for that is something that I just cannot describe.  At different times over the years I have tried to explain to Virginia how grateful I am for the life she has given me.  Words continue to fail me there...how do you thank someone for giving you life?  For allowing you to fall in love and feel joy?  How do you describe to someone that without them that you would never had traveled, gave birth, and just had a chance to experience everything that is sweet?  If you ever have the chance to donate, that person will feel the same eternal gratefulness.  Pretty amazing, huh?

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