Apparently, one miracle wasn’t enough for the most beautiful girl in the world. Now, my amazing wife Jennifer will try to repeat with back-to-back miracle seasons and beating cancer again with a second bone marrow transplant.
“I don’t know how to tell you this but your leukemia has returned,” is what her doctor told her while she was standing at a lunch buffet in a supermarket in Hunt Valley at 1:30 on Tuesday afternoon.
I was in the middle of a WNST radio conversation with baseball writer Bob Nightengale when she sent me a frantic text.
Clearly, we were both floored – completely shocked and devastated by the news.
That is not what we were expecting to hear on Tuesday when Jenn went to Johns Hopkins for what we thought was some routine blood work in the morning.
Yes, she had been battling some low energy over the past few weeks. She didn’t feel quite herself in Denver two weeks ago when we traveled to Mile High to see the Ravens and Broncos. She came home with a cold, some sniffles and a sore throat. She got an antibiotic and was feeling better every day – almost normal and 100% earlier this week.
Life had been so normal for us for so long – her initial bone marrow transplant was June 26, 2014 – that we never feared or envisioned this relapse and second battle, which we expect to be just as demanding and gruesome as the first battle.
Now that we have discovered that her leukemia has returned, we realize there have been some clues.
She had a massive cramp in her foot last Friday night at the Maritime Magic event at Living Classrooms Foundation. She started noticing a few small bruises on her body over the weekend. She’s been a Type 1 diabetic since 1991 and noticed some weird ranges in her blood sugar over the past week.
And on the final day of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we became again aware of the silent ticking time bomb of leukemia. The cancerous cells exploded in her body again on Tuesday and, once again, will put our lives on hold for the next year.
Jenn had given blood 13 days earlier, when she first started feeling sick, and her blood was cancer free. Now, she has blasts in her blood and her platelets and key numbers are beginning to dive as the cancer begins to ravage her immune system.
She will move back into the hospital on Sunday night and her chemotherapy regiment will begin on Monday morning. We expect a lengthy hospital stay and a long battle. She spent 56 days in the hospital on the first journey – including 42 days on the first stay in March and April of last year. We were in the hospital literally every day for 180 days.
Honestly, this time, we’re just hoping to have her home by the end of the World Series or sometime around Halloween. And we’ve put our full faith in the doctors at Johns Hopkins who miraculously saved her life the first time.
My son has been on his honeymoon this week at Disney World, the Ravens played in Pittsburgh on Thursday night and we were headed for a five-day beach getaway and now, nothing else seems to matter anymore.
I wrote a massive blog about my search for happiness last month.
But, as Don Henley, sang: “In a New York minute, everything can change.”
Indeed, the wolf is always at the door.
Life is very fragile and our time on earth is very limited.
We’ve had 72 hours to digest this diagnosis and the second battle begins now.
And once again, my wife told me on Tuesday night: “I’m not going to f**king die. I will fight!”
So, off to the 5th floor we go for an extended stay and a full focus on her getting to remission and whatever it takes after that.
Her doctors are working on various protocols and developing an evolving strategy to save her life.
We know this journey well. We’ve become close friends with survivors. We’ve also lost some friends along the way. We’ve already run into folks at the hospital who were battling with her in 2014 and are still fighting for their lives every day.
And we’ve also seen many miracles.
Last Saturday night, we went to have our annual pre-game beverage with Marvin Lewis here in Baltimore before the Ravens game. We ran into this young lady with some Cincinnati roots, who is a five-year bone marrow transplant survivor.
Inspiration is all around.
Survivors abound. That’s what There Goes My Hero is all about!
But this #JennStrong2 fight will not be any