My leukemia is back.
The headaches and other symptoms I have been experiencing for a while now turned out to be a relapse of my leukemia in my central nervous system. While admittedly this was always a possibility in the back of my mind, when the neurologists actually told me I had abnormal white cells in my spinal fluid it was a shock. This was definitely one of the worse of the possibilities I had imagined.
It has actually been over a month now since my diagnosis, and I have been hospitalized most of the time. I am in remission and, as best as I can tell, treatment is going well. I will eventually be undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant as my primary treatment, and hopefully on the road to recovery in a couple of months.
Which brings me back to the blog. For quite a while after my diagnosis I was feeling very much like laying low, and had little interest in blogging or even in connecting with people other than my close friends and family. I had been having a challenging time at work and wasn't quite sure whether my role was even valued. In general, I was feeling a little bit like I had missed something, that there must be a better way for me to contribute in the world, but that I really had no idea what it was.
In that frame of mind there wasn't really much point in blogging. I didn't want to just randomly blog about anything that bothered me, with no focus, let alone turn it in to a forum for airing my personal sorrows. I wanted to blog, but I wanted my blogging to work toward adding value, answering questions, and hopefully contributing to a discussion about some bigger ideas and issues.
In the end, I don't really want to blog about my particular situation or treatments. What I am really thinking a lot about now, and want to understand better, are the larger issues about the health of our world. These are the issues I really was thinking about when I started the blog, and I did get a little distracted along the way. That's not to say that I don't think a lot of what I wrote isn't relevant: I think issues such as access to information and other policy issues are critical, and I expect I will continue to write about them and find them relevant.
In fact, when I speak about the health of our world, I really am thinking in wholistic terms, including things like social justice and the social determinants of health, local economic development and cooperatives, democracy and political engagement, not to mention environmental issues and the impacts of what we make and use on our health. I think taking these apart and treating them as separate issues misses the point. I want to understand these relationships better, and how looking at these problems and ideas together might actually achieve better outcomes.
Il still want post about leukemia and cancer; in fact, some of my next posts will likely be about exactly that. These posts will be more about leukemia generally, rather than specific experiences or events. I still want to write about my specific experiences but I expect that will be more of a personal project for the moment rather than something for the blog.
In the longer term I would like to build Without Leukemia to more of a site, with some informative content and links related to some interesting and, hopefully, relevant posts. Given that my interests to tend to wander I am setting myself up for a challenge, but I am hoping that by bringing some focus here I might find a focus that I can carry though to other contributions I can make and work I can do.
It's something about a cancer diagnosis, but it seems to be the perfect opportunity for a kind of personal reflection, re-evaluation and reinvention. I don't know exactly what this will end up looking like in my case, but I think this blog will be part of the journey.