Saturday, March 29, 2008

Our Stories

Tomorrow I expect to start the next round of chemo. I'm not sure what cycle this is since September, probably 8 or 9. The last two weeks of the cycle are clearly an improvement when compared to the first three weeks. The last week (week 5), which is my recovery week, i.e., no drugs, is always a relief and a reminder of what life is like without the constant fatigue. Great plans are always mapped out during this week, as I seem to forget that my motivation will languish once I enter the next cycle. Oh well, what's the saying: the best laid plans......?

My success in raising monies for the Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has landed me a position on the executive committee of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society. My success being due to all of your generosity and most especially John Sadwith's tenacity in soliciting contributions from the legal community. John has already jumped on this year's fund raising by selling tickets for a suite at the Denver Nuggets game this coming Saturday, the proceeds from which will go to the Light the Night walk. For those nonlawyers and nonlocals, John is the executive director of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. He has plenty to do without taking on this task, but his heart is apparently bigger than his head. For that I am very grateful, John. The fund raising is so very important for people like me. Let us not forget that but for the new drugs, velcade and revlimid, I would likely not be alive. Those drugs first came out in 2004 I believe, but were only used in very limited applications, mostly as last resort treatments. Clinical trials since then have shown their effectiveness in early treatment as well as maintenance regimes (like mine). But new drugs are necessary as this nasty disease often figures out how to get around the drugs. The Leukemia Society has set a date of 2015 as the date they want to have a cure for blood cancers. That's only 7 years from now!!!

You have all been reading "my story" for more than 2 years now (I think this blog was set up in August 2005). You may have noticed I recently put a counter on my blog. I have had over 450 visitors since March 17th. Too bad I didn't know about this counter when we first set this up. I'm sure we have had thousands of visitors over these past 2 1/2 years.

What I have learned in sharing my story is that we all have our stories. Rare is the person who gets out of this life without first going through some significant challenges. They may seem different on the surface (death of a loved one, childhood abuse or neglect, nasty divorce, health issues or disabilities, loss of a job, etc.), but deep down they are very similar. We are forced through external events to examine our selves and to learn to continue on with life; not just getting through but transcending the difficulties. I know you all have confronted and learned to live with or move beyond your own challenges in life. Many of you deal with those challenges on a daily basis. Some of you have shared, briefly, those challenges on this blog. My story is no greater or lesser than yours. Its drama has just grabbed our attention at this time. But its time will pass. (a time I definitely look forward to). My story has awakened me to your stories, to our stories. The connection, of course, being that we help each other to rise above the difficulties, as you all have done for us. And life goes on.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Three Years and Counting

First, the medical news: I've entered my 7th month of this latest chemo regime, but fortunately my dosage continues to be reduced to a maintenance level--once a week. Cancer levels (those notorious IGGs) are only measured every 5 to 6 weeks and I won't have new numbers for another 2 1/2 weeks. Aside from the fatigue and the steroid roller coaster I'm doing fine. I've certainly felt worse!

This Easter Sunday will mark the 3 year "anniversary" of my multiple myeloma diagnosis. This milepost is one of many that I set for myself as I began my treatment, including Julia's high school graduation, Catherine's college graduation, Susan and my 25th wedding anniversary, and 1, 2 and now 3 years of survival. Oh yes, there are many more. I'm sure this is typical of people with diagnoses like mine. We don't want to miss those important events in our loved ones' lives. So we're not only counting the years and mileposts met, but we're also counting the blessings we've received.

As I reflect back on these past 3 years, my most overwhelming thought and emotion is gratitude. I know I speak for Susan, Catherine and Julia when I say we are so deeply grateful to our family and our many friends who have loved and supported us. (that's all of you!). We have derived great strength from you. You have lifted us up during our darkest hours and you continue to keep us afloat. We embrace you and thank you for teaching us the true meaning of love, compassion and friendship. I admit that I am not sure I would have learned this very important life lesson without this nasty cancer. The lessons have been profound and humbling. Life has opened to us in ways we never could have imagined. At times I marvel, not at the fact that I am still alive, but that, in the midst of what appears to be great trauma, we are so happy. This 3 year anniversary appropriately falls on the feast of Easter, the Resurrection. Today we celebrate our new life. For all of you we send our wish for a very Happy Easter, as you have certainly given that gift to us.

With much love and gratitude,


Sunday, March 02, 2008

There's No Such Thing As A Little Bug

Let's start with the good news. IGG's remain stable at 1660, down a bit from last month. I'm very pleased with this stability given the reduced velcade dosage in the maintenance regime. This week I had a bit of anxiety waiting for "the numbers" as Susan and I have spent the last couple of days at the clinic/hospital dealing with a workup supposedly for the flu. With me, there's no such thing as just a little bug, so when I called my doc on Thursday morning complaining of flu symptoms, we were told to get up to the clinic ASAP. My compromised immune system resulted in two days of blood work, EKG, chest x-ray, and some other not so pleasant procedures and I'm now at home with an oxygen tank and more meds than I can list. Progress feels slow but it does feel like the crud is slowly moving out of me. These things always provoke a little fear, as I have memories of little bugs turning into downward slides. Not this time. We'll be back at the clinic on Monday and I suspect the chemo will be postponed until I'm out of the woods with this flu. And at least I'm not facing rising numbers if the chemo is halted for a short time. I keep telling myself, it's just the flu--and spring is just around the corner. Yesterday it was 74 degrees; today we have snow, wind, and 25 degrees. Good bye winter, good bye flu season.