A lady came into my office at the end of the day last Friday. Now this lady normally is one of the most upbeat, happy people I know, but just then she seemed on the verge of tears. It turns out earlier in the week she had been diagnosed with cancer. May you never know the gut-wrenching fear that comes with that diagnosis. I had to leave to pick up Robbie from school, but I did have time to ask "What have you got?" She said she had been diagnosed with Smoldering Multiple Myeloma. It was Stage 2. "Stage 2?", I said. "Come back when you have a problem! I've been Stage 4 for three years." I told her a diagnosis is not a death sentence. That you can live and work and exercise and do most of the things you want to do. We talked a little more and she went away a little less scared. She dropped by today and we talked more. She said I had made her weekend a lot better. I gave her some of my perspectives and offered to check with Dr. Cheson to see if he knew of any colleagues who dealt with her condition (I sent that email a few minutes ago). We talked about living with cancer and what different treatment options mean. Sometimes just having someone to talk to, someone who has been down the road you're about to travel, can really help. I like to think I helped Cathy today. It reminds me why I started the blog and why I need to keep it up more regularly.
Since I'll be posting this link to Facebook, let me first thank all of you who routinely post the "repost this if you care" kind of cancer awareness posts. Now I'll gently share this with you: I always smile when I see the ones that say something to the effect of "You may want a new sportscar, or a new vacation home, or tickets on the 50-yard line. I know people who only want one thing--to be cured of cancer. Repost if you agree". I want to--lovingly--let you in on a secret. Most of us with cancer want the new sportscar and new vacation home, too. For most of us cancer survivors (and that's anyone who has cancer and is surviving), we want what everyone else wants. You truly learn to live with--not in spite of--your affliction. So thank you, truly, for the thought. But if someone suggests giving me 50-yard line tickets, don't tell them "That's not what he wants!" I'm that kind of greedy: I want the cure AND the tickets.