Friday, January 27, 2023, was the day. After four months of lab work and tests and scans and doctor visits I might finally get an answer for the low blood counts and other anomalies that showed up in my semiannual blood test in September. So, we sat and waited in the exam room for the doctor to step in. An hour passed, he stepped through the door, and, instantly, we could see it in his eyes. It was not the answer we had hoped for. He forged ahead, told us it’s not what he expected, it’s not good news; it’s multiple myeloma, blood cancer.
Ok, now we know. The words continued to come; it looks like we caught it early, you’re asymptomatic, “ok”; we still need to stage it; there are many new treatments and therapies just in the last couple of months and years, “ok”; the prognosis isn’t just five years anymore; we go for quick and extended remission, you can have a good life, “ok”; we have chemotherapy, possible stem cell transplant, other courses of action, “ok”; you’ll need a PET scan to determine bone involvement, “ok”; you’ll need a conversation with the Transplant Team to determine your eligibility, “ok”; you’ll be receiving calls from unfamiliar numbers to schedule tests, answer them; you’ll come in for “Chemo-Teach and Financials”, “ok”.
I heard “multiple myeloma.” I always knew I would react calmly to news like this, and I did. But it was because, after I heard those two words, I was numb.
“Any questions?” Not now. Stop at scheduling. Head home. Still numb. Let the family know. Tell selected friends and acquaintances. Stare at the computer and research those two words, still numb. Retreat into myself, eat, explain to the grandchildren without scaring them, and finally fall into bed. Saturday, still numb, but creeping back into reality. Sunday morning, in bed, mind racing, update personal life goals, create new bucket list. And resolve to continue down this new road, one day at a time.
Today my head is more clear, I see a way forward, and I know I have a good life ahead of me and plenty to live for. Nothing changed on Friday except clarity about the unpredictability of life. It always was, and still is, unpredictable. Now I simply have a little more knowledge about myself and my health, and more control over this one aspect of my life. I don’t want pity, everyone has a cross, or many, to bear. I don’t want special treatment. What I hope for, and ask for, is encouragement and prayers, from those who know me and love me; it is what gives me direction, determination, and strength to take one step and then another, to live out fully the life to which I am called.
Finding the grace to be grateful for … an answer. – Pops