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My Two Guiding Principles During Cancer

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After experiencing a relapse of acute myeloid leukemia, I thought about giving up, but then remembered my guiding principles.

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After being diagnosed with AML, Alan focused on living life one day at a time.

If I had to choose one word to describe the last two years of my life, the word I would select is challenging. And during that challenging period of time, I learned to live my life through two simple guiding principles.

In November of 2020, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with a FLT3 mutation and was immediately admitted to the hospital to begin treatment. I was given a 50% chance of survival, and I was informed that I would not survive without a bone marrow transplant.

I was overwhelmed by the treatments that lay ahead for me. Faced with the daunting task of surviving chemo, I realized I would have to change the way I lived my life. That is when I learned my first guiding principle: I would need to live my life one day at a time. At first, I simply focused on getting through the treatment of the day and not worrying about the next day’s treatment and challenges.

As time went by, I learned to enjoy each and every day of my life and finally today I find myself constantly living in the moment. I have learned to appreciate the small things like waking up in the morning and enjoying the fresh air. Sometimes the smallest things in life turn out to be the most important things in life.

I successfully made it into remission after induction and one round of consolidation. A perfect unrelated match was found for me in February of 2021, and I had my bone marrow transplant.

Unfortunately, on day 97 after transplant, I relapsed and was immediately admitted to the hospital. I was told then that I had a 30% chance of surviving. My doctor told me about my new treatment plan which included a second donation from my donor, if he was willing. For a moment, I thought about quitting and giving up. I had tried my hardest, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

I took a deep breath and learned the second and most important guiding principle. You can never give up hope. I decided to focus on getting better and to not worry about my chances of survival. I underwent two more rounds of chemo and successfully made it back into remission. Next, I received a donor lymphocyte infusion. Since then, I have never looked back, and I continue to get stronger every single day.

Today, I feel it is important to help other patients cope with AML. When I was patient, I did not have a mentor to encourage me and teach me important lessons. So I decided to become an AML patient mentor. I hope I can share my experiences and my guiding principles with current AML patients. I would like to use my practical knowledge to help them with the challenges that they are facing and to provide them with encouragement and inspiration to continue fighting and to never give up.

This post was written and submitted by a CURE reader. The article reflects the views the author and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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