3 days into my Cyclopriming period, and so far so good. There’s been a few drops in cabin pressure and some strangely exciting Tom Wolfe like moments of hyper-awareness, but so far nothing too un-writable.
As much as I wish Cyclopriming was – as it sounds – preparing me to be a Transformer, the truth is far less Hollywood; it’s the first of the 3 stages of a modern-day Stem Cell Bone Marrow Transplant (SCT).
When my Haemotologist first told me back in November that a SCT would be the final destination of this journey, naturally one fainted in one’s freshly changed hospital bed. Which isn’t clever, as no-one really noticed. Much more dramatic from a standing position, but anyway. But thanks to modern medicine and the clever people who dabble in all things ending in -Ology, it is way less sinister than you’d imagine. Although still no spring picnic in Hyde Park, either.
Cyclopriming involves a low intravenous dose of a chemotherapy drug called Cyclophosphamide, which is aimed at taking out any straggling Myeloma (damaged) cells that have been silly enough to hang around. Followed by a series of daily injections – usually 8 to 10 – over the same amount of days – that assist the body in generating an exponential amount of good ole’ healthy Stem Cells. After that period there should be enough in the peripheral blood stream to move on to stage 2, The Harvest. But more on that when it happens.
Back to Monday afternoon, and my first experience with intravenous chemotherapy. It’s difficult to put into words what went through my mind as the nurses went about their business of hooking me up. Despite being surrounded for several weeks now by people receiving their own treatment, when it finally came to me and my arm, it took on a much more HD, personal reality.
There I was, voluntarily accepting one of allopathic medicines most infamous and unpredictable of treatments with only my inner-belief and trust, that not only would it deliver on its intended promise, but that my body would also come through it unscathed, and in a good enough mood to forgive me, afterwards.
Arguably the most existential moment of my entire life. And never have I loved my life, and cherished my humanity more than at that moment. But not in a cliché – ‘man repents on knees and rejoices life in the face of impending doom’ – type of way. This was more of a gentle, soothing sense of tenderness. Another layer of understanding of how staggeringly delicate and innocent we all are, in the face of natures mercurial plan. But brave, to. Inestimably brave as we toil through life, most of the time totally unprepared for what nature may have in store. Good or bad. Blessed or tragic. Doing the best we can. Being the best we can be.
On Cyclopriming day, the love of my wife and daughter, and friends and family was everything I needed to continue being the best that I could be. And I know that that’s enough right now to get this job done, and bring me home.
Since I’ve already ‘borrowed’ slightly from the title of his seminal work, I’ll sign off from this from post with a very apt and beautiful quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and…thanks to this artifice we manage to endure our burdens”.
Bring on The Harvest!
Peace and Calm