Today is my 42nd birthday.

Well, sort of. I am a leap year baby, so I don’t officially have a birthday this year. Despite the uniqueness of being a ten-year-old 42-year old, I am thrilled to be another year older, to be healthy, and to have a loving family that is going to expand in days or perhaps just hours (no, no labor yet).

It has been an emotional few weeks– the relief of a clean CT scan, memories of my father who’s Yartzeit and birthday were this week, and the passing of Jon Galinson, a friend and fellow traveler on the lymphoma road who tragically lost his battle with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia earlier in the week. I did not know Jon well, but over the last 24 months, Jon and his wife Yael struggled mightily through endless rounds of chemo and a bone marrow transplant. Jon leaves behind his wife and two young daughters. Reading the tributes to him on his CaringPages website, I am sure that Jon’s legacy of love and commitment to his family and friends will live on through all who knew him. He was 40.

We are anxiously awaiting Baby Grover’s arrival (named by Sophia, of course, who has been put in charge of “big lovies” once the baby arrives).

Once we have labor, we will post news here at BaldMike.

Then and Now

What a difference three years makes…

Yesterday I passed an awesome milestone. Although I am just two months shy of my three year “I Conquered Chemo (and chemo kicked my ass)” anniversary, yesterday marked my third annual CT scan. I wanted to get the scan and doctor’s visit out of the way before Jacqui gives birth to our second child in a few weeks (due date March 7–no, we do not know the gender). My three year scan and visit was all clear, and I have been officially downgraded to a twice a year patient. Wow. Wow. What a relief.

There are, to be sure, still hurdles ahead. I am still well aware of the risk of relapse. And the distance between progress and reality is still measured by those who I know who still struggle actively with the disease. But as each year passes and I remain healthy, that risk for me decreases, and the likelihood increases that even if I should relapse, the march of time also marks the march of progress against lymphoma. New studies and clinical trials, now published monthly, are giving so much hope for healthy futures to men and women who have been on my journey or who are scarily just beginning it.

It is still incredible to me to think where I was just a little more than three years ago. Jacqui was then six months pregnant, and with our lives turned upside down, we struggled through me in chemo, and soon a wonderful new baby.

Well, now Sophia, that miracle child, who then came into the world with the news that I had successfully been blasted into complete remission, is three and soon to be a big sister. She is a thriving girl, and every day with her marks for us both a victory over lymphoma, and the reality that every day is a blessing.

Days like yesterday are still tough. I completed my CT scan at 9am, spent 30 minutes in the bathroom passing the colonic big gulp the CT scanned are forced to drink to distinguish their digestive tracts from their other internal organs, had a quick meeting with a student, then wandered the city nervously, waiting for my 4pm appointment back at Penn to find out whether or not I had passed my test and if I would be graduated to another year of “lymphoma-free”-dom. I bought gifts for Jacqui, Sophia, and my doctors and nurses, I sweat a lot, and worried that once again, with a baby on the way, I would again be a patient. The mind can go to terrible places in times like these.

But relief came quickly in the form of an email from my beloved nurse practitioner, Lisa Downs, who at 12:30 emailed me to say “Mike, breath… Your scans look great…” And so I did. I let out an audible sigh of relief that turned several heads in my direction. I did my best not to cry. And started frantically making phone calls to let Jacqui, my mom, sister, in-laws, and other family and friends know that I was OK.

And so it was a good day.

Now it’s baby time.