Thursday, September 12, 2013

Eternally Grateful

As most of my friends and family know by now, I've spent the past several weeks being treated for a pretty rare, yet highly treatable form of leukemia called "Hairy Cell Leukemia."

Yeah, go ahead and insert the hair jokes.  It's okay.

As a blogger, I'm an "over-sharer" by nature.  However, when I was first diagnosed, Emily and I made the decision to keep the news off of the blog and the internet, in general -- until the ordeal was over with.

Today, I became one of the very blessed individuals who got to hear the words "in remission" from my doctor.  Obviously, it is a very happy and emotional day and I wanted to write about it for a variety of reasons.

First off, I need to give the obligatory Public Service Announcement.

I was diagnosed with this illness and caught it very early by going to a simple physical.  Emily had been pestering me to go to the doctor for a physical despite the fact that I felt perfectly healthy.  It had been a while.  An abnormal blood test is what caught everything.

Public Service Announcement Part Two -- make sure you have medical insurance. Too many of us solo practitioners don't have it.  It took a few months, numerous doctor visits, and a bone marrow biopsy before getting the formal diagnosis.  Once I got the diagnosis, I got to spend five days straight receiving chemotherapy, followed by six days in the hospital after developing a fever, and then another bone marrow biopsy.  Without insurance, I'd be in trouble right now.

The more important reason for me writing this post is that I have some people to thank that I am eternally grateful for.

First off, I want to thank my friend and doctor, Sam Siegler.  Sam has been my doctor for years and he was the one who caught the abnormal blood test and referred me to an oncologist.  But Sam went above and beyond being just my doctor.  He took my phone calls and text messages at all hours of the day and night when I had questions.  He reviewed all of my blood test results and explained them to me in terms that even an Aggie could understand.  He came and hung out with me at the hospital and even smuggled in some breakfast tacos.  As much as I appreciate Sam as my doctor, I appreciate his and Kelly's friendship much more.

I would also like to thank my oncologist, Dr. Charles Manner, who attacked this illness quickly and efficiently.  There were a lot of times that I didn't understand what he was telling me but I never doubted for a second that he was on top of everything going on.  He told me that everything was ultimately going to be okay and everything that would happen during my treatment.  He was correct about everything he told me would happen and I felt like he was genuinely excited with every positive improvement.  He called me himself today to give me the good news, and I will never forget that.

My family and friends have also been amazingly supportive.  My mom and sister both came in from out of town to sit with me through chemotherapy treatments and then came back the following week to visit when I was unexpectedly put in the hospital.  Luci Davidson and Carmen Roe not only visited me in the hospital, but they also helped me keep up with my caseload.  I was also honored to be visited by two of HPD's finest -- Sgts. Ryan Chandler and Roger Chappell.

Nothing cheered me up more than being visited by my best friend, Luke.  Sylvia took time out of a busy day to bring him to the hospital to hang out with me for an hour and it made my day.  Just getting to hug your kid is the best medicine in the world, and I'm thankful for him and Sylvia for the visit.

I'm also greatly appreciative of all the phone calls, texts messages, e-mails, and Facebook wishes from fellow defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, coordinators and friends both near and far.  They really do bring a bright spot to a dreary time.

But out of everyone I have to thank, the one person that I will never ever ever -- in a bazillion years -- be able to thank enough is my wife, Emily.

To put it plainly, she is a saint.

Most of you know that Emily is currently in her third trimester with our son due in October.  She puts up with me on a daily basis under the best of circumstances.  Now is the time when she deserves to have me waiting on her hand and foot.  Instead, she has spent her third trimester dealing with a cranky cancer patient.  She sat with me on every chemo that my sister or mom couldn't attend.  She worked full days in the hot summer and then came to hang out with me in the hospital.  She was an absolute rock of stability and support through it all.  She's one of the strongest people I know, but I don't think I knew just how strong until we went through this together.

I would need countless lifetimes to begin returning the unconditional love and support she gives me.  I can't begin to tell her enough how much I love her.

Finally, I thank God for getting me and my family through this.

The type of cancer that I had was the equivalent of a hangnail when compared to what so many other of our friends and family members have gone through.  I am, without a doubt, one of the lucky ones.  I don't know of anyone else who was fortunate enough to only go through one round of chemotherapy and be declared in remission six weeks after official diagnosis.

Cancer is absolutely as horrible as everyone says it is.  There is no way that can ever be overstated.  The faces of strangers taking chemotherapy beside me are sights I will never forget as long as I live.  The common stories and words of encouragement from cancer survivors like Johnny Bonds and my favorite bartender, Mike Shapiro are reminders of how lucky I am.

Nothing, however, serves as more of a grim reminder of how fortunate I am than those friends and family members who didn't survive the disease -- from my grandfather to my friend and mentor Buzz Hamilton to Mike Anderson.  Cancer is synonymous with the catastrophic destruction of everything a person and a family are.  It is something intensely personal yet you need the support of all of your family and friends to get through it.

Sorry for running on so long with this post, but when you are feeling so incredibly fortunate, loved, and blessed for your family, your friends, and your health -- well, sometimes no amount of words will ever adequately express how eternally grateful you are.

16 comments:

Brian Tannebaum said...

Thanks for writing this. Be well.

Anonymous said...

I pray that you will continue to stay healthy and in remission and that you, your wife, and your coming off-spring, as well as Luke, will have many years together. Maybe when the 12th man license plate recipient expires in ten years or so then you will have to decide whether to purchase the license for one of your children or pay for their college tuition which will probably be also $115,000 at A&M at that time. In the meantime maybe Dr. Siegler will be able to refer a certain Aggie quarterback to the appropriate medical provider after the Alabama game. Hang in there Murray - your talents are too valuable.
Calvin A. Hartmann

Roger Chappell said...

You're a good man, Murray. It was my absolute pleasure to go see you.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Ah Calvin,

I wish I could argue with you over your prediction about the Aggie game, but you are probably right -- as usual.

Thank you to everyone for the kind words.

I keep thinking of countless other people that I meant to thank and forgot.

Anonymous said...

As much as I don't like you, "Congrats". I will continue to pray for you and your family's health and that you continue to live a long and healthy life so I can to pester you as you have others. Once again, Congrats!

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Thanks 12:45 a.m.! I think.

Anonymous said...

Murray, Thank God for your remission. I pray that it sticks. I didn't even know you were sick. Now I feel bad for startling you at Target the other day.

--Alex

Anonymous said...

OMG. I had NO idea Murray. You wrote a beautiful, moving piece. You are so brave and as always, approach life and hardship with an attitude I could certainly learn something from. I am proud of you. And so happy to learn about your remission. My family will absolutely keep you and your family in our prayers. Thank you for sharing.

Junkyard Dog

Anonymous said...

Murray,

What a beautiful posting and loving tribute to Emily. I would say that those of us who have the pleasure of knowing you are the lucky ones. Bill and I were delighted to hear the good news and will keep you and your family in our prayers.

Donna Hawkins

Kate said...

Murray, I know that hearing the wonderful word "remission" must be a huge relief for you, Emily, Luke, and your entire family. Thank you for sharing this good news with the community around you - on your blog and in the CJC. And really, of all the horrible diseases to come down with, I can't believe you had something called "hairy cell."

Thomas Hobbes said...

And remember that follow-up is ever so important. Keeping a good thought for you!

Anonymous said...

God Bless you Murray - Godspeed!

Tell your Saint:

You Saw what others could not See;
You Felt what others could not Feel;
Because of your Love and Compassion - You Saved My Life!

May God continue to Bless you and your Family.

LS

Mark W. Stephens said...

Murray -

I didn't know about your illness but I completely understand your decision to keep it private. I'm the same way. It was very good though to hear that you are in remission. It's an amazing thing to see how many real friends you have in these situations and it sounds like you are very blessed in that regard.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

-Mark W. Stephens

Anonymous said...

I thought you appeared to have less hair! Seriously, glad you're well!

Anonymous said...

Really glad to hear this good news!

shg said...

This a great, Murray. The best to you and Emily.