from Myeloma Warrior: Let's try something Up Beat ... for a change
The holidays are once again popping in to visit us...
And along with the holiday cheer.. it is a time for reflection..
So much to be thankful for in this time of uncertainty for not only our family but so many in the world.
But we should all be thankful..
For we have each other.
I am not going to say this past holiday was easy.. quite contrary...
But I will only focus on the fact that we were very lucky to have family and close friends as part of our Thanksgiving celebration.. a gathering of 20!!!
Mark offered his thanks to all that continue to support him on this journey..
He is So brave to stand up to this cancer and take it head on..
Neither I nor anyone else will know the full set of challenges MM presents.. but Mark is keenly aware, and he keeps much to himself.
Mark reminded us all to be thankful and grateful for what we have in family and for the outpouring of support he has received .. and I could not have been more proud to stand by his side. He encouraged all that gathered to offered a recount of all that we should be grateful for in their lives.
So as we prepare to move on to the next holiday, I reflect, and hope and pray that we will be able to do the same next year... with everyone gathered to once again reflect as Mark offers and gives thanks...
from Mike's Firefight with Myeloma: it has been a while
...As we celebrated Thanksgiving I reflected on all that is was thankful for. Family and friends who prayed for me, The Drs and Nurses at Puget Sound Cancer Center, The research being done at "the Hutch", The awesome medical team at SCCA and UW.
I could go on a while, but most of all I thank God for the second chance at life.
Each day I get stronger, even though I deal with the side effects from the drugs. I have a very expensive maintenance drug that I will take for many years to come, but it is better then the alternative.
Finally, I am so lucky to have Chrystal, who has stood by my side and taken care of me all this time. I know I can be a pain, so she must really love me.
I hope all of you have time to be thankful.
from Carla's Multiple Myeloma...
As we reflect back on this year, there are so many things for which we are thankful.
a. For our many family and friends who have support us as Carla has gone through this myeloma experience. Your thoughts, prayers, friendly phone calls and uplifting words have meant a lot to us.
b. For the great doctors and researchers who have persevered in their hunt for a cure for this terrible disease called multiple myeloma. Dr. Barlogie is leading this charge. We are thankful that the Myeloma Institute is within driving distance from Springfield. Many of the myeloma patients and their caregivers have to fly to Little Rock for each of their sessions of therapy and for their many checkups during maintenance.
c. For Home Away From Home apartments for which we have been able to use for all of the chemo treatments but one and during this stay for Carla's surgery. It makes me wonder what needs are in our community back home that need to be addressed by us.
d. For God's sustaining strength as Carla "walked in the shadow of death" during each of her six chemo therapies and stem cell transplants.
e. For good medical insurance that has spent upwards of a million dollars on Carla's treatment.
and last but not least Walking with Big EZ: Surviving My First Year with Multiple Myeloma
One year ago, Tuesday, January 5th, 2010, my orthopedic physician said those dreaded words "Your MRI shows a soft tissue mass on your sacrum. We need to schedule a biopsy to see exactly what it is." Words like lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma were thrown around and we were in a state of shock. So began my journey with cancer. The past year has been a blur of doctors appointments, radiation and chemo treatments, a lengthy hospital stay, a stem cell transplant and physical therapy. Along with that came an education in cancer terminology, pain, and in life: Multiple Myeloma, blood cancers, plasmacytomas, bone marrow biopsies, Hickman catheters, ports, intrathecal pumps, M-spike protein, infusion therapy, Velcade, Thalidomide, Dexamethasone, Oxycontonin, Lyrica, Valtrex, humility, sacrifice, caregiver dedication, and unconditional, complete love from my family and friends.
It has been a tough year, but a good year, and as I look back I am very thankful for:
- my loving wife/caregiver who puts my needs above hers each and every day
- a loving family who sacrificed time, energy, and resources to assist us
- my wonderful parents and a beautiful mother in law who treats me as her own
- the many many special folks that prayed constantly for us this year. Many of those I did not know, but learned of my situation through bible studies and church prayer groups
- friends who stood by our side and orchestrated a fantastic fundraiser: Standing in the Gap, raising funds to cover medical expenses for several years
- a loving and supportive Stony Hill Baptist Church family
- Dr. Kritz, Jessica, and the caring staff at Cancer Centers of North Carolina
- Dr. Gasparetto, Amanda, and the wonderful staff at the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic
- the advancement of new treatments for MM, through organizations such as MMRF (Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation) and IMF (International Myeloma Foundation). Some of my chemotherapy drugs were only FDA approved in 2008
- blogs like Multiple Myeloma for Dummies that allow us to connect and share with others battling MM
- Dr. Suh, my orthopedist, who detected the tumor early enough so bone damage from MM was limited to my sacrum and a handful of lesions that otherwise did not cause fracture or completely limit mobility
- my ability to stand and walk (a little more damage to the sacrum and I would probably be immobile)
- a fast, positive decision on disability and an early retirement package that allowed us to stay in our home
- minimal adverse reactions to the chemo, radiation and SCT
- a new second birthday, August 25, 2010 (day of transplant)
- hair that has come back softer, thicker and with less gray (However, I would not recommend MM as a hair treatment procedure, there are other means!)
- forced early retirement that has given me precious time with my wife, family and friends
But most of all I am thankful for the saving Grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, who made miracle after miracle happen this past year. He was faithful in so many ways, walking with us, answering so many prayers, and providing His perfect timing with doctors, clinics, treatments, and financial assistance. I was constantly encouraged and at peace in a way that can only be made possible by Him. Casting Crowns says it best in "Praise You in This Storm"...take a minute and be blessed by this video.
Faith, Family and Friends. Without them I would not be able to handle the MM. I am extremely thankful.