I hope you had a chance to watch Tom Brokaw's excellent special on his journey with multiple myeloma. While MM is a very personal type of cancer, there are many similarities which I recalled as I watched the show. I have been fortunate not to experience the extreme pain that Tom did early in his diagnosis for which I am most thankful. However, there were many things I could empathize with Tom about, including the extreme fatigue, multiple bone fractures, constant back pain, chemotherapy and radiation treatments that bring one down, the danger of catching the ordinary flu and spending 2-3 days in the hospital, and the loss of height and weight among others. (I have gone from 5"10" to 5"6" and now look up at most of the guys I know and my weight is slowly coming back after hitting bottom at 145 lbs.) I am sure that Terri and Elizabeth could add other similarities.
There are differences too. While Tom was able to achieve a complete remission through chemotherapy, I have undergone 2 stem cell transplants, one of which put me in the ICU for 6 weeks in 2011 (the result of catching the H1N1 virus--not the stem cell transplant) as many of you will recall. That stem cell transplant brought about a complete remission. My most recent stem cell transplant in 2014 brought about a near remission and I am on chemotherapy to keep the disease in check. It has been a long road back from that one. The medications Tom is taking no longer work for me so I am on a regimen of some of the latest drugs available. Pray that they will work.
I am glad that Kathy Giusti, founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, was featured on the show. Her organization has done much to advance research on the disease and we support it every fall when their Race to Research comes to Chicago and the Twin Cities. We hope you will support us again as well.
Most importantly, Tom stressed the need for family and friends to help break down the isolation barrier that surrounds a person with MM or any other cancer (and his caregiver). How fortunate I have been in that area. I have been so blessed to have an unbelievable caregiver in Terri. She has walked every step of this journey with me as she has taken care of me and I need to make sure she takes care of herself and that we both find time for rest and relaxation. Elizabeth has been a wonderful medical advocate, translating everything that has happened and reminding me of the many things I have forgotten. Andrew, Mike, Katie, and my siblings have offered wonderful support, as has the rest of the family and our friends And the grandchildren born during this journey have been a great joy!
Tom did say how it is important to take life one day at a time--a lesson we learned a long time ago. What he did not mention is the power of the prayer of others who are with us on this journey. We know that God is at work in our lives and we are so thankful to all of you who have offered words of support and especially prayers on our behalf. Thank you.
If you haven't seen the show, here is a link to it online.
Tom Brokaw A Lucky Life Interrupted