We all have someone who has made a difference in our CML journey. On September 22, who will you be thanking?
This September, Labour Day weekend marked seven years since I was diagnosed with CML.
Every year about this time, as the nights get cooler and as the kids get ready to go back to school, I am reminded of those days after my diagnosis when I wondered if I would lose my hair. Those days when I didn’t know if I would see my kids grow up, when I thought I was going to die. I remember the fear, but more than that, I remember how my diagnosis divided the people around me into supporters and avoiders. There were those who made an effort to ask questions and understand what CML was and how they could help, and those who simply didn’t.
The people who rallied around me gave me strength and helped to keep me moving forward. For them, I will be forever grateful. If you are fortunate enough to have these kinds of people around you, then you know what I mean when I say this:
There is more than one way to save a life.
On September 22, to mark World CML Day, the Canadian CML Network will launch a campaign of thanks to recognize those who have made a difference in the lives of people with CML. Visit our booth at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre on September 22, or go online (link to be posted soon), to send a free virtual thank-you card to those who have stood by you and made a difference in your CML journey. Whether it is your doctor, nurse, a family member or friend, this is your chance to let them know how much you appreciate all they have done. If you know someone with CML, there’s also a card that you can send to express your support and admiration. These eCards are also a great way to help raise awareness about CML. I have posted a video to show my appreciation for those who have supported me, check it out at http://cmlnetwork.ca/worldcmlday/video. The thank-you cards will be available at the same link on Sept 22. In the meantime, think about who will be receiving your message of thanks.
This World CML Day, I’ll be thanking:
Dr. Jeff Lipton
Dr. Lipton, there is so much I am grateful to you for. There’s the obvious one: you saved my life by diagnosing CML. But you have also done so much more than that. When I struggled in those early days with anxiety and uncertainty, you were unwaveringly patient and empathetic. When I complained that I couldn’t rock my baby to sleep because my medication meant frequent trips to the bathroom, you said the best words ever, “That isn’t acceptable,” and found a solution. You have been incredibly supportive and generous with your ideas and guidance as the Canadian CML Network takes shape. And there’s that time you gave one of your patients medical advice in the middle of a meeting. She stood up, showed you where it hurt and you told her what to do. You’re the best.
Nancy, seven years ago, you met me in the dimly-lit lobby of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Everyone had left except me. Just diagnosed, I was crying alone, terrified that I wouldn’t see my kids grow up. We talked for a long time, and you gave me a folder filled with everything I needed to know about CML. You not only gave me the tools I needed to feel empowered, but over the years you have also given others those tools. Thanks for all that you do for our patient group. We are all so appreciative.
Janice Payer & Liz Beattie
Janice and Liz, you are going to say that you don’t deserve the thanks, but you absolutely do. The day we met was the day I finally felt able to look forward. By sharing your experiences, you helped me to see that the future was in fact bright, and that I wasn’t alone. Your friendship and your support mean so much.
Mom and Dad
Mom, you stepped in to help make sure there was a sense of normalcy for my sweet children. You have spent decades of your life managing crisis and illness – supporting your son, my brother, as he lived with hemophilia, then HIV and hepatitis C and now liver cancer. And when I was diagnosed with CML, our family was months away from learning that my dear dad, your husband, was quickly slipping away into some unknown form of dementia. Thank you for staying strong and for taking care of what mattered to me most, when I needed it most.
Anthony, we have been through a lot together. More than a brother, you are someone who knows what it is like to feel the fear that comes with finding out you have a life-threatening illness. I don’t understand your courage, but I am inspired by it. And while my experience with CML is nothing compared to what you face every day, you have always been there to talk things out, and for that, I am so grateful.
Kevin, if it weren’t for you, it would have taken a lot longer to find out that I had CML. We have never really talked about it, but I can only imagine what was going through your mind when we were told that I had leukemia. There you were with a baby, a three-year-old, and a wife with cancer. You were, and have always been, incredibly supportive and understanding. Remember that time I had a chest X-ray done and the nurse told me cheerfully that they “might” have seen a spot on my lung? I never did say thanks for telling her that it was a stupid thing to say to someone just diagnosed with leukemia. You are awesome.
Grace and Anthony, you are too young to understand how important you have been over the last seven years. In those early days, when I felt so awful, scared and sad and sick, you were the reason I got up every morning, and headed out to the park or the library. You made sure that I continued living. You make me laugh a million times a day. You remind me to pay attention to the little things (let’s jump in that puddle!), and you always smell so good! I am so grateful for every minute that I get to spend with you. It is such a gift.
And for all of you who make the CML community the incredible thing that it is. I wish you all a very happy World CML Day.
Available soon: The Canadian CML Network’s book “Living Well with CML: what you need to know to live your best life with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.” Visit our booth at Princess Margaret on September 22, or order a free copy by sending a request to email@example.com.