I've recently come to realize that sets of 3 little numbers hold a great deal of power in my life. 3 little numbers when combined in the right order can occasionally fill me with joy, dread, irritation, or some combination of the three emotions.
985 for my mother.
314 for one of my oldest friends.
408 for my uncle and aunts living too far away.
713 for the place that has owned most of my time over the last 5 years.
At one time, seeing 713 flash across my cell phone screen used to fill me with annoyance and dread. During the early days of learning to live with the snarling bête noir that is cancer, 713 meant another appointment, another hospital stay, more strange news about my condition, another day spent away from home. The sight of 713 conditioned me so that my heart beat a little faster, my hands became less sure, and I stopped whatever I was doing at the time to scramble for my phone.
After 5 years, endless chemotherapy, and 2 transplants, I've come to realize that 713 doesn't have to be the growling beast gnashing its teeth at the end of a too short leash. This past Monday, 713 became routine.
A physician's assistant covering for my regular PA at MD Anderson called to let me know that some of the results from my bone marrow aspiration were available. I don't have cancer. There's no molecular evidence of leukemia. In blood cancer speak: no minimal residual disease.
The flow cytometry is still pending and results won't be in for some time. The PA reassured me that my transplant doctor wasn't concerned since my numbers were all so normal. Normal.
I suppose you can guess how I feel about 713 these days since it is now Wednesday and I've been sitting on these results since Monday afternoon. No anxiety and no accelerated heartbeat. 713 now means business as usual or a friend on the other end of the line.