I’ve written several times about my chronic health condition. I have multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. As I continue to survive this horrible disease, I’ll write something about it occasionally. How can I not write about it, with my blog having the handle Old and Blessed. Aging, and aging gracefully with cancer is a wonderful blessing. Taking stock of the things I’m blessed with enjoying demands that I write about those things in my despite column; despite the challenges that threaten not only my quality of life, but life itself. We all have a despite column, consisting of those items in life that come to stifle us. Somehow, we’re able to journey on with more joy than we deserve. I chalk it up to my Creator.
Consider the following: According to the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, an estimated 34,470 adults (19,100 men and 15,370 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma this year. It’s estimated that there will be 12, 640 deaths in the United Sates from multiple myeloma this year. Myeloma is less common than other types of blood-related cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma Worldwide, an estimated 176,404 people were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2020. An estimated 117,077 people worldwide died from it in 2020. The overall five-year survival rate for people with multiple myeloma in the United States is fifty-five percent. There are many more statistics I could bore you with regarding this disease but consider the fact that I was diagnosed twenty-two years and seven months ago. Who knows how long I had the disease before diagnosis. My healthcare team reminds me regularly that I’m considered a long-term survivor, poster child, if you will.
I’m a member of a Facebook page called Multiple Myeloma Patients. It provides information about the disease and support for those who have been diagnosed. I’m a regular contributor to the page, looking for those who find themselves struggling with a recent diagnosis, or seeking information about some development in their condition. Although everyone is different and the approaches doctors take to treat individuals are different, based on several variables, there are often some commonalities that can be discussed among patients. I often find myself of some use in encouraging people who haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that they have multiple myeloma, and that the world hasn’t ended for them yet. They are still alive, living during a time when advances in treatment for cancer are being made regularly. Whenever I mention my long-term survival, the responses indicating hope, encouragement for a bright future are quick to show up on the page with likes and smiling emojis.
My journey hasn’t always been positive. I’ve undergone a lot of suffering. There have been numerous hospital visits over the years. I’ve had to have a hip replacement. I’ve contributed nicely to my dentist’s coffers. Heck, I’ve even undergone a bout with sepsis that nearly took me out; however, I’m still here with a story to tell that offers encouragement to others.
Suffering is that dark cloud that sometimes has a silver lining, especially if you are moving forward. I honestly believe it isn’t to be wasted on yourself. When the Psalmist in the Twenty-third Psalm said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…,” I focus on the word through in that verse. I don’t believe I’m walking through this dark valley of suffering for no reason. The best reason I can produce is to let us know that if they’re still alive with sound mind, they have every reason to be encouraged.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.