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I have been in remission from Leukemia - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - for three years, four months and seven days....and I am counting.

For those uninitiated to the throes of being a cancer patient, perhaps the question is , "Why bother counting? Why not just move on? You conquered cancer and life goes on." The simplistic answer to this complex question is this: Cancer never leaves. It might sleep, stay in remission for a few years, then  perhaps return. This could be a short respite from the disease or you could be granted a longer time until its return. If you're terribly lucky, perhaps it will never return. Remission, however, does not mean you are cured.

Merrian Webster provides the definition of remission as:
: a state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated; remission
 after treatment


In other words, remission is a period of time where cancer is reduced in amount, degree, or intensity. So, to describe this state of living in my own terms, I am surviving while carrying inside me a sleeping giant. I don't know when and if he will awaken. He is always with me. He is silent for now and perhaps forever but he is always with me.

This sounds so scary. In fact writing this blog post frightens me. Why am I writing this if facing this fact brings me so much fear? It is because I feel that in order to conquer this fear, I have to face it. I must admit to myself and others that yes, I am frightened. I think about my Leukemia diagnosis every day.

There is a big YET here. Yet, facing this fear, writing about, talking about my fear of Leukemia returning also strengthens me. I am weakening the fear by admitting it. This weakening feels like I've taken some of the pain out of my chest and I can breathe more freely. I can see more clearly. I can look at my surroundings and feel grateful for my family, friends. I can love my dog Chip more completely and be grateful he was at the SPCA when we were ready to adopt again.

My expression of fear and pain frees me to enjoy the present. I am looking out the window and see blue, blue sky. I sit in my house and enjoy the light through the windows, the photos and the paintings. on the walls. I feel at peace. I have been given this day as a gift. I've said that so often but living life through each day is the best description of my life since Leukemia.

Today was a day for checking in with my reality. Living, grateful.

One life. One day.

abrazos to all,

Martha

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Tags: Chicana, Estudio, Francisco, Latina, Martha, Martita, Rodriguez, San, artist, blood, More…cancer, leukemia, rebirth, remission

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Comment by Martha Rodriguez on April 28, 2014 at 9:35am

Dear Laura:

I wish there was a handy guidebook on how to deal with living with cancer. There may be some out there but the truth is as individuals, we deal with life's struggles in so many different ways. I wish the best for your daughter. The acceptance of the disease is one struggle to overcome but the joy that comes with living each day to the fullest is harder to obtain. When I need reminders of the joy of living, I may look back at my day and pick out the one or positives that I experienced. I try to celebrate that even some small experience was joyful. I will give thanks for that experience at the end of the day then sleep and begin again. One day at a time. It is for me, the only way to deal with living with cancer. The future is too expansive and there are too many unknowns. I don't want to dwell on what MAY be or what MAY come. Life is about NOW and the present. This is how I live and get through each day. hugs to you...

Comment by Laura Ortiz-Spiegel on April 28, 2014 at 8:45am

Martita, I shared your blog on my facebook for my daughter to read. Your strenght, inspiration, and the YET reference may serve as her guide.....she has come to terms that there is no cure, just acceptance. However, her journey is still painful and sometimes hopeless. As familia we try to be there. But as she puts it, my cross to bear just keep me company. Sin Mas, Laura

Mil Gracias! Thank You!

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