|We pardoned the turkey this year, in return for which he's providing gleeful holiday spirit
If, three months ago, I had been given a quick peek into the future to see my family's circumstances for Thanksgiving 2021, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown. But having lived those months one day at a time (often one hour at a time), I'm something of a changed man - and so am genuinely filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving.
First and foremost, I'm thankful that all of the members of my little family are still here for Thanksgiving since that wasn't a sure thing. And I'm particularly thankful for the amazing strength, courage, and humor with which the women in my life are facing down their challenges. I'm thankful for all of the medical professionals who are routinely working miracles on our behalf, and for the anonymous (to me, at least) blood donors who are gifting us with life on a regular basis.
I can't say I'm thankful for my daughter's whopping ovarian cyst, but I do appreciate that it became symptomatic at just the right time to allow for surgery during a window in Kathy's treatment (best guess is that the surgery will be next week.)
I'm very thankful for family and friends (including you!) who have helped keep us going in these recent months, and thankful that the support is ongoing - because there's a long road still ahead.
On Monday, we had our first detailed talks about a stem cell transplant for Kathy. The procedure usually takes place 4-6 weeks after a round of chemo (which she'll be starting in early December), although it may be delayed somewhat because Kathy will first need to have her gall bladder removed and recover from that surgery. Because we didn't already have enough on our plates.
I'm wildly thankful that a good stem cell donor match has been found for Kathy. Donating stem cells is no picnic; it involves medications that put your stem cell production into overdrive, after which they're collected (via blood that is filtered then returned) through a needle in the donor's neck in multiple 4-hour sessions. Who does that for a stranger? Apparently a lot of people.
To prepare for the actual transplant procedure, the patient receives a Grand Whammy of chemo in order to destroy the bone marrow and the immune system. The donor stem cells are then introduced via transfusion, and the plan is that they'll take root and start producing healthy, non-cancerous blood. Interestingly, not Kathy's blood, but the donor's. Her system isn't going to be "fixed," it's going to be replaced.
The procedure will require a lot of medicine, a lot of donated blood, and a lot of recovery time (with strictly enforced isolation). And while there are no guarantees, it's at least possible that Thanksgiving 2022 will see Kathy cured. And that possibility is what I'm most thankful for.
So please accept warm and very sincere wishes for a wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving this year from the surprisingly lucky Jarlsberg family! -Stilton