Lucky

Today at the hospital, we saw a young man who looked familiar. He was with his wife and 2 little girls in the cancer center. Jake hadn’t seen his doctors since December, and this was a routine visit. I asked the man if it was possible that he had visited us in the bone marrow transplant unit last year. A big smile formed on his face. Definitely! He had stopped by to give Jake encouragement that he could endure, survive and thrive after a BMT. The difference though was he had received his own stem cells. They had found a mass in his chest 4 years ago.  He was exercising and was short of breath.  His own stem cells had been taken to help him endure the chemo. There weren’t the same risks as with a donor transplant.  Most of the patients at that time were getting their own stem cells. It made me feel lonely and scared. I hoped he was back for just a check up. He looked good. He was interested in Jake. “How are you doing?” I asked. The cancer had returned. This time it had been in his lungs. He stayed positive though. They were trying a new treatment, and he only had 2 more rounds. He had responded well. I immediately thought to myself, wondering if he had some unnamed gene mutation that would cause the cancer to keep coming back. Each time with a vengence that would eventually take his life far too young. Science knows so much, yet so little. It has come so far, yet there is still much to be learned. Another young man recently died from an unknown, unnamed disease. Maybe someday it will be discovered. Chances are his family may never know. We were lucky. A doctor was able to identify Jake’s immune disorder in 2012. It didn’t make any difference, in fact it just complicated his test results. They started the chemo not knowing for sure that he even had AML leukemia. It was an educated guess, and everyone hoped for the best. That is what we have now. We have experiences and educated guesses. There are drug trials and plenty of errors. There is still much more to be discovered. The process is slow and expensive. Maybe someday, Jake’s cause will be given a name. It won’t matter. Jake was able to have a cure. We were just extremely lucky.

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