Hi, Marti here, and welcome to picklesinthegarden.com where I blog about recovering from a stem cell transplant/bone marrow transplant, organic gardening, pickling, and creating art for the garden. Is this just another blood cancer survivor/gardening/food blog? Maybe, maybe not…depends on your perspective. Starting and maintaining this blog is part of my journey in recovering from blood cancer, specifically acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) and stem-cell transplant 1.5 years ago. Leukemia (AML) stole EVERYTHING from me…my health, stamina, energy, concentration. and focus.
I hope other patients with blood cancers, survivors, and caretakers are helped as I share my continuing journey as well as help newly diagnosed patients answer the usual questions that arise day to day. And for those who happen to stumble on this site, I hope you find it helpful, informative and interesting. Please share it forward. Sharing my life with strangers is not typical of me but these are not usual circumstances.
My family and I didn’t know if I would live. And if I did, I wondered what kind of life I could expect. Would I be able to have a good, productive life after leukemia and stem cell transplant? I am here to tell you “YES”.
Here’s a little history of my background. Professionally, I am a nurse and artist (painter). I worked in critical care, created a few businesses, and worked in clinical analytics-informatics, and absolutely loved it! I was healthy, active, with no chronic illnesses, and on zero medications. Then, the sky fell in 2016. I was on a work project, a Six Sigma project, and suddenly didn’t feel well. So I went home. And that was the last day I went to work. Thinking the flu was the culprit, I went to bed to ride it out. But my symptoms continued to get worse with each passing day. So I went to my local ER and was admitted inpatient. And there is where I stayed for 4 weeks. Remember the lyrics to Hotel California, “…you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!” That’s truly what it felt like. During those weeks, I was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, CMML for short. I had no idea about the CMML, but it quickly progressed to acute leukemia and is the reason why my inpatient stay was so long. Needless to say, I was pretty sick. Chemotherapy started immediately, and the process of finding a stem cell donor began. Fast forward 22 months after the stem-cell transplant, and here I am tilling the soil, amending it, and planting seeds (physical and intangible) for future harvesting.
Gardening for me has always been a creative and delicious hobby. One that requires sweat equity yielding to a harvest of organically raised vegetables, herbs and flowers. There’s no better way to know how your vegetables and herbs are grown, free of chemicals, then to grow them yourself or buy organic. Growing your own vegetables is more important than ever with the rising incidence of cancers, immoral chemical companies like Monsanto (now purchased by Bayer), and improper cleaning and handling of mass-produced vegetables, fruits, meats, and poultry.
These days, I don a face mask, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, long sleeves, and gloves. It’s quite a funny sight! But you do what you have to do to live life fully engaged.
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