WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE AN AML SURVIVOR?
When asked about facing AML, Chris explains, “I am a warrior, not a survivor. To be a survivor means that I am at the mercy of AML”.
He goes on to share, “I personally see all of it as individual challenges. I accept them one by one and deal with them all one by one. I wake up in the morning and think about one thing, just one little thing that will drive me that day. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it is not. The point is that I hit my mark each and every day. I have made my long-term goals and mid-term goals. I keep them separate from my day. Each day you rise is a victory. Think about it, you are here reading this! That means you have already won the day.”
WORRY AND ANXIETY
“The sad reality of this path is that regardless of how well you feel and think you are doing; you are only as good as your next appointment. This keeps me up at night OFTEN. Like everyone, there are factors and side effects that I deal with that make it very hard to remain civil at times, but I do what I can.”
It is easy to give in, or even to give up, but it is important to remember what you are fighting for. “To help, I have always needed to push the envelope just a little harder each time to remind myself that my fight is valid and that my effort is recognized.”
WHAT THINGS DO YOU DO TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD?
“I will go for walks, go for a drive (I have a wrangler), and when I am too deep in my head I have "my place" by the ocean where I will go sit, and just let the sights, sounds, and smells wash the anxiety away. I talk to my dad there too, who I recently lost. The key for me is to always have outlets for the anxiety and not let it become all-consuming.”
WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED?
“I have learned that there is a very big difference between living and simply existing. It is up to each of us to work hard to live our lives to their fullest and to not fall into just existing. Yes, it can be terribly hard at times. But the things in life that are worth fighting for are often hard. The easy thing to do is to accept the limitations and simply settle with them. I prefer to fight the limitations every chance I have.
“I have also learned that nothing is guaranteed, and I just can't see myself giving in to the many demons that AML gives us. I fully understand that some of us have a harder path than others, but there are always ways that we can regain our focus.” Taking control allows us to live the best lives we possibly can.
“In a way, we have an opportunity here in that we can restart many things, but it is up to us to take those steps, to find the things that work, and to push, mentally and physically, every single time. I choose to be a warrior every single day.”
MORE MEMBERS OF THE HEALTHTREE FOR AML COMMUNITY SHARE WHAT BEING AN AML SURVIVOR MEANS TO THEM:
- Survivorship to me means more time with my children, family and friends. It also means a wedding next month to the love of my life. Survivorship is a daily battle, but well worth every second! Keep up the good fight to all of my fellow AML warriors - MJ
- One more butterfly kiss with my granddaughter. One more sunset with the love of my life. One more sleepover with my grandsons. - KD
- Survivorship to me means more time with my family and friends and June 6 is my birthday. and July 23 is when I had my SCT.I give GOD the glory. -SS
- One more day of gratitude to an unknown person with a huge, giving heart that was my donor. No idea who as they chose not to be identified....I could never thank them enough! - KM
- It’s made me focus on doing things that make me happy , growing spiritually , appreciate the love of my family more. - PA
- I too am grateful for each new day. My donor, Zach, and his family have spent wonderful times together with my family. We praise the Lord for bringing us together but that is another great story. It soon will be my third “cell”ebration of my Stem cell transfusion! - DW
- My daughter's B day!! She was five when I was diagnosed with AML!!! Survivorship means helping others going thru it!!! TY GOD for all my blessings!!! Surviving means you never stop punchin!!! - SM
- In 6yr of remission of AML. I am grateful for another grandbaby and my son’s wedding. And all the family gatherings that I might have missed. - AL
- I have had the luxury of being able to see two new grandbabies born, being present for my sister who passed away from cancer and improved time with my family. - PW
- Focusing on new life and thanking God for each day, taking nothing for granted. Survivorship has given me a new look on everything, feeling so grateful. - PD
- One more day to be thankful to open my eyes to see all the beauty life has, To see family’s daily friends,to be with my husband. To be thankful for what God had given me and to no I can trust in his word.Thank God for another day - JW
- I think survivorship offers everyone a chance to live with new understandings, clarified purpose, deep gratitude, and kindness toward others. For me, survivorship has brought not survivor's guilt but a survivor's obligation to give back. I have attempted to meet that obligation as a peer volunteer, patient advocate and writing workshop instructor. Paying it forward just seems like the best way to honor those who saved my life and bear witness to the dignity of all the others traveling this path. - SB
- I’m grateful for every second of every day. I do as much volunteer works as I can helping others to get through this horrible illness. A diagnosis is not a sentence. You can lead a full filling and productive life. - MS
- I was finally diagnosed on March 3 of this year. It's been a battle like no I have ever fought. There are waves of depression, hope, sadness and faith. Now I never take any day that I am given for granted. - RH
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this article!
about the author
Jacob is a writer on the HealthTree for AML team. He is passionate about spreading awareness for AML. Jacob is neuroscience graduate preparing to become a Physician Assistant.