Finding My Hope

Jennifer Anand

Finding My Hope

by Jennifer Anand April 16, 2019

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Hope

My “last meal” pre-hospitalizaiton was actually a delicious corned beef dinner. My transplant was the day after St. Patty’s day. Every year, as everyone busts out the green, and potatoes, cabbage, and corned beef, I’m reminded of my transplant.

This year is 6 years- I’ve reached the immortalized five years and passed it. But somehow, it seems so recent and fresh in my memory. I’ve blocked out so much of the pain and hardships with the transplant, but there is a different emotional pain that lingers.

I’ve been on a writing-kick these past few days and have a document open where I write brief paragraphs of memories as they flood back to me as they always do the week leading up to my bone marrow transplant (BMT) birthday.

This year, I’m not surrounded by my family at home or my friends at school that remembered and celebrated with me. I’m with my coworkers, many of whom don’t know the details of my story, much less the date of my transplant.

I was writing about a close friend, Sam. He had a transplant two weeks before me, and March 16th would have been his 31st birthday. It’s been six years since he passed away, but it still seems as fresh as yesterday that he was still here.

Then my dear child life Lisa called. My number is on file at the hospital, to give to other young adults who may need a friend. She told me of an Indian patient. Twenty something, engineer, Case Western. The details are eerily similar. I feel like someone sucker punched me, as I struggled to breathe.

Every single time I hear of another person- my age, in college, facing cancer- the memories of my life’s plan being shattered come flooding back to me. I hate that someone else has to hear that same diagnosis, see their same dreams die, and will have to endure the same torturous treatment that I did. Lisa asked if I still wanted to talk to him- I do.

But I’m sad that she even needs to call me, that she has yet another person with cancer. But we talked of happy things- like celebrating 6 years. The call ended with me crying in the stairwell. Lisa had to go to the ER, to deal with another hurting person. She reminded me to cry happy tears of remembering that I am six years out. And a lot of those tears in the stairs, and the tears as I write this are happy.

But they are also sad. Sadness for myself, and the life I had planned and wanted but will never have. Sadness for my many cancer friends, who have also lost the lives they once had. Sadness for the many unknown people I know I will continue to meet in my life, that will face the same devastation I did.

My dad gave me a scripture verse as I began treatment after relapse. Since then, it has become really popular. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for hope and a future.”

I’ve told many people recently my future is now. For a while there, I really wondered if God’s promise would ever be true.

Would I ever move past the horrific toll of cancer on my body and mind?

Would I ever be able to function again?

Would I ever be able to be a decently functioning and productive member of society?

I can answer yes to all of those now. I’m getting lunch with an old friend and a new one tomorrow. I was able to walk around outside yesterday. I cleaned the kitchen last night. I baked some pies and bread. I’m playing the keyboard at church tomorrow morning.

There is a quote I’ve heard that goes like this: Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

My hope has paid off, and my future is now. I don’t know where in your cancer journey you are, but friend- have hope.