Support groups are great for discussing these issues and knowing that you are not alone. It helps to see how other survivors cope. The nbmtLINK conference calls were special for imparting knowledge about GVHD and talking to others with the same disease. I know that just being here after transplant is the most important thing. I can deal with everything else.
Next Chapter: So, where am I now with respect to my leukemia? I am in remission! I feel great and am trying to resume a normal life. My activities include exercise by walking–using a stationary bike, golf (I never played before, but my brother pushed me to start) and I go to our senior center twice a week to play cards. I also attend two support groups; one is sponsored by Northwell Hospital, and offers only discussion opportunities with other survivors. The other is sponsored by LLS. This support group is called “Survivors in Motion,” in which the meeting offers a different activity each week. We start with a walk, and then we participate in other activities including, Tai Chi, art, bowling, physical therapy, and a gym workout. Additional sessions included sharing our stories and hearing various speakers.
For the last fourteen years, Dr. Bayer has sponsored a “Celebration of Life” sit-down dinner at a country club on Long Island. The last one we attended had four hundred survivors and spouses, donors, doctors, nurses and aides. I was televised by the news media meeting my first donor. I am still in touch with him. Dr. Bayer flies all donors in for the event, no matter where they live. Seeing all the survivors is truly uplifting.
My family participates in the “Light the Night Walk,” sponsored by LLS at Eisenhower Park near our home. This uplifting event is attended by thousands of people. Everyone receives a lighted lantern, white for survivors, red for caregivers and yellow for family.
To motivate me, my wife and I walk for Charity Miles. This is an application on our iPhones, which counts our steps. The sponsors of the application donate to the charity of our choice based on miles walked (sponsors include organizations like Nike, Johnson & Johnson and others. Being positive and keeping active are keys to being healthy and leading a normal life.
So, this next chapter is still being written. I will keep on surviving!
I would like to share an apropos quote from Joshua J Marine:
“Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
I am open to being contacted; feel free.
Lewis J. Christie
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