Hope (and the Inspire Me Mondays Link Up)

#Hope smells like rotting grapefruit. #stemcelltransplant http://wp.me/s2UZoK-hope via @blestbutstrest #cancerHope smells like rotting grapefruits.

I’d smelled it before, as Pedro and I shuffled around Elven Long on our daily exercise laps.

The first time I smelled it, I joked with him, “It stinks just like the gymnasium did when you guys sold fruit last year!”

He looked at me quizzically, with his one eyebrow raised and the other one frozen in place.

“Some of the grapefruit were rotten, remember?”

He nodded and breathed deeply, to see if he could smell it too.

“I wonder why some rooms smell like that?”

A passing nurse heard my comment and laughed. “That’s the nicest way I’ve heard it described,” she said. “Most people think it smells and tastes like garlic.”

“But what is it?”

“DMSO. They use it to preserve the stem cells when they’re frozen. That’s the smell of a transplant!”

The year 2002 passed out with a harsh round of chemo in preparation for Pedro’s stem cell transplant. In the doctor’s words, the goal was to ‘all but kill’ Pedro and then infuse him with his own stem cells (harvested three weeks earlier)—which would act like little magic bombs that would rush in and repair everything that was broken.

For the first time, Pedro seemed to bounce back after chemo. His doctors marveled at how many laps he walked each day, and the fact that he gained weight instead of losing it. And miracle of miracles, the muscles in Pedro’s face started to slowly come back to life.

Pedro present a picture of glowing health (ok, see the photo above and draw your own conclusion ;) ) on the day of his stem-cell transplant.  It took 10 days of shots to the stomach and harvesting to produce enough stem cells.

Pedro’s hospital room bubbled with hope. I’m pretty sure both doctors and nurses that had worked with him over the past four months dropped by just to take a peak at the miracle. On the eve of the transplant, the hospital chaplain dropped in for the first time (if you’d like to know how NOT to conduct a hospital visit, you can read about it here)

On January 3, 2003, the nurses wheeled in the transplant tank and floated the rubber ducky in warm water that would unfreeze the bags of life-giving stem cells. While they hooked up the lines, I pulled out a package of mints for Pedro to suck on. The DMSO (Dimethyl sulfoxide) can cause halitosis and an icky garlicky aftertaste—a small price to pay for a huge infusion of hope.

As the nurse started the drip of stem cells into Pedro’s IV, we all let out a cheer. Almost instantly, Pedro asked for a mint. Within hours, Pedro’s room smelled like rotting grapefruits. The smell of hope.

For more comfort for caregivers (and to read more of our story), click here.

What does hope smell like to you?

#inspirememondaysWhat’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememondays. Join us! (tweet this)

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

 Loading InLinkz ...

 

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Hope manifests in the strangest of ways sometimes, huh? Beautiful story of hope today!
    Jen @ Growing in Faith recently posted…#write31days {Pure Terror}My Profile

    • 🙂 So true! Thank you for stopping by, Jen.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • I’ve always loved how our sense of smell stirs up memories. This is just so sweet. Thanks for sharing!
    Kristin recently posted…Day 20: The OverscheduledMy Profile

    • Smell is very powerful–and so very personal. Each smell revives a different memory for different people. Thanks for stopping by!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Lying here thinking of all the things that remind me of hope. My hope reminders come through sounds. Thank you for kicks starting the memories!

    Anxiously awaiting the end of your story!

    • Sounds definitely elicit memories, too–but for me, they aren’t quite as powerful as smell memories. Thank you for stopping by!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Pingback: Leave Something on Someone’s Heart | 31 Days of Speaking Life()

  • Its great how smell can give such emotions.
    Anung V recently posted…Book Review: Creative ConfidenceMy Profile

    • :). Especially the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies ;).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • I like this a lot! I agree with Anung about smells evoking emotions. It does that for me, as well.

    I always thought DMSO smelled like garlic, too. When I used it in a lab, someone told me that DMSO is used to transport substances (e.g., meds) through the skin. I’ve never tried to confirm or refute that.
    Melissa recently posted…A Clean Slate – 31 DaysMy Profile

    • I’ve confirmed that is IS used to transport substances through the skin (I discovered this whilst checking on it’s complete name to use in this post 😉 ). I’ve used it as a topic muscle pain reliever, and it immediately leaves a taste in my mouth–ick!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • I love that a “stinky smell” is replaced with beautiful hope. God makes good out of the seemingly “bad”. Several times a week I’m finding myself at your blog and it has been such a blessing!
    Laurie recently posted…Day 19 ~ HonorMy Profile

    • And that stinky-smell-replaced-with-beautiful-hope theme is what God is all about. Taking our stinky and replacing it with hope! Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Thank you for sharing! I am sure I have read other posts from you; but was comforted this morning to find it – something about “31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers” was a definite stop for me!!! My blog is “31 Days of Dementia’s Demands” and follows the journey I am on with my husband who has Vascular dementia. It is not easy to be a caregiver; but I love your “recovering caregiver” tag! I am sure I have subscribed to your blog and will catch up reading soon!!
    Barbara London recently posted…Day 20 – Stroke: Know the SignsMy Profile

    • 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, Barbara. I left a message for you on your google+ profile.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Thank you for sharing! I am sure I have read other posts from you; but was comforted this morning to find – something about “31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers” was a definite stop for me!!! My blog is “31 Days of Dementia’s Demands” and follows the journey I am on with my husband who has Vascular dementia. It is not easy to be a caregiver; and anything I can read to help ME, as I try to put out info to help others, is welcome! I love your “recovering caregiver” tag! I am sure I have subscribed to your blog and will catch up reading soon!!

  • OH I love this! Rotting grapefruits smell like hope! The way you describe the turning point here is powerful, and the picture–I just love the looks on the (nurses’?) faces, and especially the look on Dad’s, since it was probably the biggest smile he could manage!
    Laura Melchor recently posted…Why I Don’t Like Stuck in LoveMy Profile

  • I would have never known there was a smell to that procedure. I love that first sentence though. I absolutely love this story.
    Messy Mom recently posted…Inside the Mind of a ToddlerMy Profile

    • Aw, thank you :). The strange things you learn in a hospital! One of these days, I’ll have to write about Area 51…
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Thank you for sharing your story of Hope!
    paula recently posted…My Simple Woman’s Daybook-October 20th EditionMy Profile

    • Thank you for stopping by, Paula! Love the entryway to your house!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • What an amazing story! I’ll have to think about if hope has a smell – if so, I haven’t noticed it yet! 🙂
    Janice S. recently posted…Day 18: Even stillMy Profile

    • One these days, when you’re struggling to hope, you’ll probably associate a smell with it ;). I hope it’s a beautiful smell for you–although rotting grapefruits make me smile!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • What an inspiring post. Having lost my dear father to colon cancer, I know all to well the awful smells of the hospital. I absolutely love how the smell of rotten grapefruits is the smell of hope. Wishing the best for you and Pedro.
    Amanda recently posted…Chicago Children’s MuseumMy Profile

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Amanda. Pedro continues to do well (he’s an 11 year survivor now).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Your story is more than inspiring. I think you wrote the book on inspiration or you should. I’ll be back for more! Thanks for the wonderful link!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Sharon! The book is in the back of my head…Thank you for visiting!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Such a lovely real-life story of hope. So glad you shared it today, and glad I stopped in to read it. Keep going in your write 31 days!
    Julie Lefebure recently posted…What’s A Love Language?My Profile

    • Thanks for your constant encouragement, Julie! Only ten days left to go! This has been a wonderful journey and I’ve learned so much. How about you?
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…WaitMy Profile

  • Pingback: Walk A Mile In His Shoes - Julie Lefebure()

  • Pingback: 31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers | Blessed (but Stressed)()

  • Pingback: First (and the Inspire Me Mondays Link Up) | Blessed (but Stressed)()

  • Pingback: Six Tips for Finding Financial Aid for Cancer Patients | Blessed (but Stressed)()