Enjoy the ride
It’s hard to believe we are where we are. Last Sunday we were near Blue Ridge where Ramón kick-started the week by running up a mountain – no exaggeration. Then, on Monday morning, we sipped coffee while watching the sunrise from the comfort of a hot tub, soaking in the glorious moment unfolding before us. Then, after returning home and getting groceries for the week, we received the phone call that would turn life upside down once again. Ramón immediately turned on his speaker phone, and I knew something was wrong the moment I heard the doctor’s voice. Her typically calm demeanor carried a twinge of dread, and then she asked, “Are you at home?” At that moment, I was certain I didn’t want to hear what was coming.
So, that’s what brings us back to the Emory tower we came to know all too well last year. In some ways it feels surreal to be here, and in other ways it's as though we never left. As we drove here on Wednesday morning, we realized how grateful we were that we hadn’t spent the past several months worrying. We’d been concerned that we’d live with a constant cloud hanging over our heads, wondering if and when the leukemia might return. Yet somehow relapse didn’t cross our minds much, and here we are in the relapse realm. I, too, am relieved that we’d been enjoying ourselves because, regardless of whether we’d allowed worry to consume us, this is the outcome we’ve got to face.
What’s the plan? That’s a question we’d love to know the answer to, but it’s highly variable based upon how Ramón responds to treatment. He agreed to take part in a clinical trial, so he’s either getting about 15 infusions of an active drug or placebo. In addition to that, he’s doing three different chemotherapy drugs every day through Wednesday. Then we wait and see where the road takes us, but we’re hoping it’s a somewhat direct route to bone marrow transplant.
Ramón’s sister was tested last May, and she’s a half match. While a perfect match is ideal, time is also of the essence, so the current plan is to move forward with his sister as his donor, assuming he doesn't annoy her too much before then. If this round of chemotherapy yields its intended results, Ramón could get a bone marrow transplant in the next four to six weeks. If he needs additional rounds of chemo, that time frame could change. For two people who met each other at an improv theater, we sure do like having a set plan. But that’s just not the way this works.
I don’t know what the post-transplant regimen looks like, but it depends on the outcomes above. I’ve realized the only way to prevent full meltdown mode – and to give Ramón my complete support – is to take one step at a time. So, as hard as it is at times, I’m just going with it. I know that any minute now the nurse will come in to hang Ramón’s next bag of chemo. Then later tonight he’ll get the clinical trial infusion. In between these things we will walk through the hallways cutting up while we think of dumb tricks we could play on the hospital staff. And tomorrow we’ll do it all over again with jokes even worse than today's.
Per usual, we are so thankful for the outpouring of support we’ve received since Tuesday’s difficult announcement. We seriously don’t know how we’d do this without you all.
Though we don't always know what will come next, we do know that putting the anticipation cart before today's horse will make it hard to enjoy the ride. And our goal is simply that: to enjoy the ride.