Shortly after I was discharged from the hospital in August, I received a letter from Dana-Farber wanting to know if I would like to contact my stem cell donor. I was not ready. I was shaky, could barely write or type, felt like hell and frankly, I didn't want to send a thank you note and soon thereafter kick the bucket.
On Wednesday, I decided it was time to make a connection. I looked for appropriate stationery, nixing the pad bordered with red roses, and the one with the horse logo at top. I found some pale blue paper and went with that.
The first attempt to write the letter ended badly. I messed up the date. The second went more smoothly, and I managed to write two paragraphs before the waterworks began. Fortunately, I moved the stationery out of the way so I wouldn't be sending my donor a tear-stained display of gratitude. Composing myself, I continued writing, trying to show what his gift had given me. Concrete things--not "life" or "a shot at a cure"--but how my donor's generosity gave me a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family, visits with friends, outings to see my children race, a smile on my husband's face.
It was a tough fight between the wordsmith and the thankful recipient. I tried to strike a tone somewhere between gushing gratitude and polished prose. Who knows how it will sound? My donor has the option of writing back to me, or not. Any correspondence we have must stay strictly anonymous until the one-year anniversary of the transplant. After that, we can chat by phone or even meet. I suppose at one year you're considered out of the woods and the whole enterprise a success. Jaded as I am, I assure you it ain't necessarily so. But a year more is better than a year less.