In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companions faced a dangerous journey down the yellow brick road… just as people with cystic fibrosis face obstacles every single day. Instead of lions, and tigers, and bears, (oh my!), we deal with long hospital stays, trips to the ER, breathing issues, digestive problems, post-transplant complications, and more. Right now, six years after my transplant, my three greatest fears are infection, rejection, and cancer.
Don’t get me wrong; a transplant is a rare and wonderful gift. As I expressed a couple of weeks ago, I am forever grateful to my donor. I am living and able to breathe deeply and easily without coughing. However, it’s important to be aware that, in a way, getting a transplant is trading one set of problems for another. I still take dozens of pills every day, and I’m at risk for infection, chronic rejection, as well as cancer. And, I still have to deal with the usual afflictions of life, like a knee replacement.
A week before my knee replacement surgery, I learned I had squamous cell skin cancer. Again! I’d already had several surgeries to remove other growths. This one was so close to my port that my dermatologist didn’t feel comfortable removing it, himself, and now I have an oncologist to add to my list of physicians. So, just a few weeks after my knee surgery, I was back in the operating room to have skin cancer removed. I’ve suggested they name an operating suite after me: the Jerry Cahill Memorial Operating Suite. It has a ring to it, don’t you think?
The point is when you live with CF, whether you’re doing well, waiting for a transplant or post-transplant, you must live each day with purpose and appreciation. There’s no time to just slide by and take life or the people you love for granted. As the old beer commercial said, you have to “grab for the gusto!”
* Exercise of the week: 3 sets of wall squats. Find a wall and squat for CF!
* Quote of the week: “Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love.” – Bradley Whitford