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  • Drew Dotson

That's how this works


Ramón and Noodle-nose

This day last year, Ramón walked out of our house for the last time. In the days leading up to his transplant admission, he spent more time than usual loving on the dogs. He assured them how much he loved them and said what I deemed – even at the time – to be his final goodbyes. It was wearing on me because I didn’t want to think about Ramón’s mortality; I'd already spent more than my fair share of time thinking about death. Also, after all that I’d learned about acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the cancer itself wasn’t really something to take his life out of nowhere. Instead, in Ramón’s case, maybe in the months or years [or decades] after his transplant, we’d learn that the cancer had recurred, at which point we’d try more treatment options.


On one of our many hospital walks during the previous admission, Ramón asked me what actually caused people with AML to die. From what I’d read, the most frequent cause was infection and the body’s inability to fight it due to lack of immune system – whether from the body’s incapacity to produce useful cells or from chemotherapy’s intentional destruction of the immune system.


“That’s not how this works,” I reminded Ramón as he doted on the dogs before we departed for Emory. Because of this, and several other precursors, I often wonder if he knew something was going to happen. Regardless, I often think about that statement: “That’s not how this works.” Though my words were rooted in accurate facts and well-researched information, they became untrue in time. That was how it worked, after all.


It’s interesting to me that, even when dealing with something as unpredictable as an aggressive type of cancer that has just relapsed, I still latched onto every inkling of information I could find. That’s just human nature, I guess. All the statistics, study outcomes, preventative measures, and planning give us a small sense of control when life itself seems erratic. However, deep down, we know that things will unfold in ways that continue to surprise us. Why? Because our life is just ours; it’s unique and will evolve with each new day. That’s how this works.


P.S. Thank you to everyone who has chipped in for the CFF so far. I am filled with gratitude. http://fightcf.cff.org/goto/drew

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