The GVHD watch is still in full swing, but the medication change to manage the .1% didn't wreak the havoc we feared - at least not yet. Dan continues to consult with his Georgetown team each week and is finding less and less to report. His rashes, dry mouth, and dry skin issues wax and wane, but he's gotten pretty good at managing them after trial and error with many OTC products and prescriptions. His energy is getting better, his strength is returning, and he's finally met his pre-transplant weight. We're still obeying the immunosuppression diet and lifestyle full of hand sanitizer, bleach, food thermometers and excessive laundry, but we're happy to comply when results are so good. The last week or two have been truly inspiring as we make plans for the summer, for Dan to go back to work, for vacations, for family get-togethers, and for date nights. We're so accustomed to penciling plans in and it's exciting for us to imagine using pen. Our dreams may finally become reality as we approach the 4 year anniversary of Dan's diagnosis. We're happy, we're healthy and we're cancer-free. We've recently added a new "first" when Dan got his haircut on day 207 - looking sharp!
We've had a chance to pay it forward the last two weeks as my Aunt Nora makes her way to a successful end to an extremely difficult battle with lung cancer. Last Monday her surgeon removed her entire left lung - and all of the cancer! She has been in the ICU at our hospital-turned-home, Georgetown, and has finally turned a corner to recovery the last few days. She is making steady gains now and we are hopeful she will make a full recovery - and a "new" life, cancer free. My mom has been sleeping on our couch for almost two weeks and has been an amazing caregiver. Dan and I have stood by her side and spent countless hours supporting both of them any way we can. Unfortunately, we know what it's like to have weeks on end enduring long, painful hospital stays, both from a patient and caregiver perspective. Fortunately, we have that perspective that allows us to drop everything and love family first, turn to prayer, challenge our faith, and trust in medicine. It is a gift we've been given and one of the little joys we've discovered since this whole mess started. We plan to use this gift and be for others what they have been for us. A support, a shoulder, a friend, and a partner.
All is well in the Lyons home these days. We are in summer-mode and counting down the days till school's over and summer break begins. I don't carry my cell phone into my classrooms at work anymore and I only call Dan once a day. Dan has become a volunteer at the National Basilica at Catholic U. and is registered for classes at George Washington in the fall. He has accepted a fellowship that will get him in the classroom teaching supply and demand curves to freshmen during their intro to econ course. We are getting glimpses into the old normal. We are non-commital because Dan still has hard days, but the everyday fear is diminishing.
We are finding little joys everywhere.