Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Story of Us...

Upon thinking long and hard, I have decided to turn our story into a page, a place for others to gather and share advice or offer support when going through ANY type of situation that needs some love and guidance. Death is never, ever easy... but you don't have to go through it alone <3 I would love for you to follow me through this journey of starting over, finding my purpose and facing chapter 2 of my life head on, alone. I decided to also start off this blog with our story. Who we are, where we came from and what brought us to today. If you have made it this far, THANK YOU :) *Yes I am a newer blogger lol* Anyways, here we go ...

My name is Mandy. I am now 31 years of age. (How did I get this old, so fast? lol) I am a kid at heart, and honestly, growing up thought I would be single forever... until I went with my friends to a party to be set up with some "smart, soccer player" named J.J. I was 18 and I will NEVER forget the moment he walked into that room so many years ago <3 I had never felt that way and we became inseparable! After 5 years, he proposed to me and in 2007 we were married. Life is never perfect, we sure had our ups and downs, backs and forths but somehow we always ended up back together!

In November/December of 2011, after being together for 11 years, we had signed to get a new apartment in a place we had strived to be and were preparing to move when my husband got quite ill. He was SO close to vacation time that he had saved up for the move that he tried to push through work. He was told by the doctor that he had a sinus infection, so he kept on working... but kept getting sicker. Another doctor appointment reveals an inner ear infection. More medications, but kept on working until that morning. Another day I will never forget. J.J. woke me up that morning in a panic telling me he was going blind and he couldn't hear me answer him. He had already had the left side of his face start to droop. We were both so scared as we had a friend drive us to the hospital at 8am. By noon that day, they were telling me that my husband, my 29 year old, strong , otherwise healthy husband, had AML... Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I truly went numb. Everything was a blur. He had many blood transfusions that day and was sedated. The next morning, we were transported by ambulance to a large Cancer Specialty Hospital in the city and he was told. He was quiet, the silence during that ride was unbearable. He was angry, understandably. He was scared, but didn't want to show it. I cried for the both of us.

He was admitted and that stay was there through Christmas, about 30 days. He went through round #1 of chemo. We moved without him... and moved my younger brother in too. He came home in February and we had a very late Christmas, tree, turkey and all the trimmings ;) It was a blast! They allowed him to do his next 2 rounds of Chemo from home, travelling back and forth to the hospital with the loving care of The Cancer Society and their volunteers <3 They were amazing people whom I will never forget!

We had both had many discussions in regards to a bone marrow transplant and it was something neither of us had to think twice about. It was a go and his brother was tested immediately (direct siblings are the best chance at a match) but unfortunately came back as a negative match. We took it as meant to be and decided to be place into a donor bank, continue chemo and the current treatment plan and wait. A few months later, we got that AMAZING call that he had his match! That angel out there among us who made SUCH a difference by deciding to donate their cells <3 He is watching over them I know in my heart to this day too. **Please consider Organ Donation*

June 6th, after much preparation, high dose chemo and radiation therapy, J.J. had his transplant. It was life changing experience and although scared to death, I will never forget the moment the nurse walked in just after 10pm with those cells... a second chance at life in someone's hands. Everything went well with the transplant and he recovered nicely! He returned home about 3.5 weeks later and although very tired, had some fun with life :) Video games, friends, cooking, just being at home meant so much to him!

One day in July he went for a check up, and was feeling a wee bit under the weather in comparison to normal. I had to stay at home that day as there was no room in the volunteer car for me but we had done this many times before and he was at ease going alone. I was thrown for yet another loop when I got his text saying he was being admitted. Here we go again :( I made my way into the city to him and we found out he was experiencing a transplant patient's biggest fear... rejection.

I don't want to go into a fair amount of detail for the next few months but the time I got with my husband in life and in these months I will never, ever forget and will treasure for always. J.J. took a turn for the worst in the last week of August 2011, I got the call no one ever wants to get on a Friday morning. My husband was told alone. I was heart broken, and in shock. I still had to make the hour trip into the city to get to him. The love of my life, my best friend, my rock, my everything passed away Sunday evening at 8 pm. I was with him then. I don't even remember getting home that night. I was lost. That was the start of chapter 2 as I knew it... How on earth did we get to this, death, in 8  months? He was 30. He was gone. I was alone.

This is a link to his memorial video,

That was almost 7 months ago... and that brings us to today. I have my good days, I have my bad but I still expect him to walk through the door everyday around 5:30. So much has changed, it has been hard, much harder then I thought it would be and I cant wait to share more with you!

Life is short, and you only get one chance. Make it wonderful, have fun, dance in the rain, kiss your partner goodnight, do the things you have "always wanted to do" and SAY things you need to say. Life can be taken away so very quickly and throw others left behind into chaos. It does get easier, slowly... better, eventually... I am still here writing chapter 2, that's gotta say something ;-)

Love until next time! <3

Mandy xo