We did it. Summer vacation is finally here. Back in February when I started my temporary position at a middle school, I was filled with anxiety, nerves, and even some regret each day when I left Dan at home and made my way to a brand new job. We needed the money and a sense of some normalcy so we convinced ourselves we'd made the right decision and I put on my brave face and went to work. Fast forward four months and I find myself with new friends, new skills, and a new appreciation for middle schoolers and their sometimes awkward, adolescent ways. I've fallen in love with my school, the teachers, and have enjoyed unique experiences working with the special population of students there.
But now it's summer, and I'm so ready for it. What teacher isn't ready for a few months off after 10 months of hard work? I know the non-teachers reading this are having their annual "Why didn't I become a teacher again?" moment. This summer, Dan and I plan to maximize our time and take advantage of a summer without cancer. I've only been at this whole "working" thing a few summers now and they've always involved the disease in one way or another. We're planning a good, old-fashioned summer full of trips to the pool, beach, mountains, baseball games and surely a few happy hours in between. We are booked up almost every weekend of the summer and plan to enjoy every minute of it.
All is quiet on the medical front. Dan has been acing his weekly blood tests and continues to light up the Lombardi Center every Thursday with his positive attitude and contagious grin. He still has to go weekly because there is always a new symptom/side effect to discuss/assess, but we are hoping to get his visits to every other week in the near future. His GVHD medications continue to change pretty regularly (based on symptoms) and that always seems to affect him in some way. Sometimes he's extra tired, extra rashy, extra achy, extra dry, to which we shrug and encourage his host and the graft to get over themselves and learn to live together once and for all. They still seem to be hashing it out, but we're living a pretty almost normal life in spite of it and doing more and more while thinking about cancer less and less. Since Dan is on so few immunosuppressant drugs these days, there are fewer eating/activity restrictions, so he's enjoyed some sushi, wine, burgers, and also plans to take a dip in the ocean as soon as possible.
Last summer when I packed up my classroom, I had no idea what layed ahead or what my life would be like when I returned to work. Last summer we didn't know if we'd have another one together. Last summer when we got on that plane and flew 3,000 miles away we had no idea what we were about to go through, the odds we'd face, the fear we'd know or the courage we'd muster. Had we known we may not have had the strength. While last summer is a not-so-distant memory, we're looking forward to making very different memories this summer. We are filled with happiness, hope and health. We're almost 8 months post transplant now and getting closer and closer to the one year mark. Every single day Dan's graft does its job is a day closer to using the word cure. Keep the prayers coming that Dan continues to progress through recovery. Cheers to the beginning of a wonderful summer!