Thursday, March 21, 2013


I've come to the conclusion that I'm a horrible communicator.  I hate public speaking, although I'm getting better at it. I hate the sound of my own voice.   I mentioned in a post many months ago, that I used to not even want to give a toast or say something at a big family gathering. Wedding toasts....stress inducing. 

Over the past couple of years I've gotten better at it.  I have to lead a lot of meetings at work and give an assortment of presentations.  That alone has forced me to get more comfortable with the whole process.  For me, what's tough is having the self confidence that the words coming out of my mouth are clear and coherent.  I can be prone to babbling, when I'm not locked in on what I need to say.  But when I get locked in, I feel the pressure, and babbling might ensue.

Yesterday I hosted a Cure Talk panel, with the subject being Working While Living with Myeloma.  It's a vital issue for us cancer patients and one that isn't often discussed. No one explained to me how I balance my health, my disease and my need & desire to work. It's tricky. So we had a panel conference call yesterday.  I think it went pretty well. We had great people on the panel and got a lot of good information out. I hope folks found it useful.  I'd love to do a follow up in June perhaps.  I really want to listen to the broadcast.  But I fear what I will sound like.  The thought of hearing my voice and stammering, is almost mortifying.   But I need to force myself to listen it.  The myeloma has made me a bit better with the whole speaking thing. It's a mind game I play with myself. If I can survive the myeloma and all that came with the early treatment, I tell myself I can do anything.  What's a little conversation when compared to lying in a hospital with tubes all over my body?  This is the game I play with myself. I try to put everything in perspective.

They say the way to overcome fears is to face them head on. Just dive in. I'm going to force myself to listen. ugh. The nerves in my belly start acting up just with writing those words.

I'm also not a great communicator on the personal level. I don't always say how I feel and can skirt around issues. Conflict, questions, and all that, are horrible results for me. I can get defensive.  Again, over the past couple of years, I have learned how to be more direct.  But I still have steps to take. I"m getting there. 

This morning I took a bunch of students on a field visit of some construction here at the port.  It went well. I knew what I was talking about, in fact I knew the subject better than I know most other things.  So no problems.

This morning I got my monthly lab results.   My protein counts and bad protein counts are as good as they've been in two years.  The myeloma creates a bad protein that blasts the bone and/or kidneys.  For me, my kidneys have taken a beating.   These low protein numbers are excellent. It means we're still kicking the myeloma's ass. And it means my kidneys have a chance to improve even more. They're not being traumatized.  Mentally, I'm hanging in there. I have energy to work out and live a fairly normal life. But wow, at night, I can be pooped out.  I'll pass out often on the couch snoring away at 8 pm. That part  sucks. Pisses me off.  It's about finding balance between wanting & being able to do things while also needing to rest and remember that cancer is still floating around my body.

One other note about yesterday's panel discussion. It's interesting hearing other people's myeloma stories. Seems like we all grapple with many of the same issues and questions and worry.  There is a real common thread.  I've developed a pretty good support network of fellow patients.  Seeing how others positively deal with their disease is motivating, empowering, and humbling.  Who would have thought this is the path I'd take? Not me. But here I am, and we'll make the best of it. And I'll learn to communicate better.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Matt, It's always a shock to hear yourself. I hate it and yet you complimented me for my talk. I think you did fine. I would think the phone, not seeing each other face to face, would make it harder. I thought everyone sounded very relaxed, comfortable, no body talked over each other, etc. And it seemed like it could go on longer.
    Just Mom


Berenson Oncology Success Rate

 Some reading about my myeloma specialist's success rate. A press release and an article from Targeted Oncology.