Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two Years. Day One.

Today is the day. Two years since my diagnosis. It's also Day One. Every day from this point on is a bonus. Look out.  I took today off from work. Gracie and I went on a long walk. I went to the gym. Next Leslie and I are going to get a good breakfast. Then we're taking ice cream and treats to Dr Phan's office to thank them for all they do. Ice cream is something I've had to avoid, due to the kidney, but today I'm living it up. 

Going for walks with Gracie has been good for me this whole time. It gives me a chance to think, to motivate, to pep myself up. Last night and this morning, I was feeling a little odd. I've been excited all week for today. But here it is, and I woke up feeling like " what?" I can honestly say that when I was diagnosed I was aiming to get two years of living in. That was my target. Two years has flown by. Now my target is another 30 years. But! I'm good with whatever. I'm not saying I'm not going to fight and battle and keep on keeping on. Oh, I am. I am lean and mean and ready to kick myeloma's ass some more. But I do think my conflicted feelings were partly due to the fact that in a way I crossed my finish line. This was my goal. That's why today is not only my two year anniversary, it's also the first day of everything else. I'm not f'ing around from this point on.

Berenson likes to say that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Very true. But I think in some ways, I'm not a marathon person. I'm more middle distance. I have some speed, some stamina and some resolve to handle the pain. I'm like a 800 meters runner. Well, 800 meters nowadays is like a sprint. Let's say I am a miler. A 1500 meters person. Some speed, some power, some stamina.  It's a track analogy yes, But I actually have a real story about my near marathon experience.  Many years ago (a lifetime ago) I liked to run. I ran a lot. I was training for the LA Marathon. Two weeks before the marathon, I did a 21 mile training run. But I ran with some experienced marathon runners for that training run, and they ran at a crazy pace. My ego forced me to try and keep up with them. I did for the first 15 miles, but then I crapped out and slowed way down. But the damage had been done, the fast pace had exhausted me and the last 6 miles were absolutely miserable. At mile 17 my love for running switched to hate. I hated those last few miles. Two weeks before the marathon, I decided screw it. I'm not running any more. No LA marathon, no jogs, no nothing. And since that time I've run maybe 8 times.  A few years back I thought maybe my positive feelings for running were coming back. I tried a couple of short jogs. But my knees and ankles and hips and foot all hurt. Old age had creeped in. I don't have the ideal runner's body to begin with, and my running form is sub par. So for me, running beats up the body too much. I'd like to try again, but I probably won't. Better to just avoid the extra aches and pains.

When I was first diagnosed, I read about a man in his 70s with myeloma who had a goal of running a marathon in every state. That is his way of staying ahead of his myeloma. I've come to be acquainted with this hero through twitter. I believe he has accomplished his goal. He's also a pretty active spokesman for cancer and myeloma research. Pretty impressive guy. I like these success stories.

I brought treats to work yesterday to thank my co-workers for their support over the past two years. Work has been a nice escape for me. A slice of normalcy. I've been back to working full time for many months now. Yesterday was one of those crazy busy days, where it's meetings after meetings. Issues after issues. I don't mind though. That stuff doesn't stress me out.

I'm taking today off to celebrate my milestone, but I actually feel a bit guilty for missing work with so many issues dangling. But they will be there when I return on Monday. I figure I deserve a celebration day.

When you're first diagnosed, you read a lot of stuff. You scour the internet for information about your disease. So when I did my reading I kept seeing the word "incurable" and I kept seeing stories about people who lasted two years with myeloma. Lucky for me, and many others, treatment has advanced a whole lot in the past few years. For many of us, it's treated as a chronic disease as opposed to a fatal disease.  I do maintenance chemo. I get asked fairly regularly how long this will last. I say indefinitely. I'll do this chemo regimen as long as it keeps me stable.  I feel great and am living a pretty normal life. Pretty amazing considering where I was.

So what's next? It's like my marathon training. I was ok with not doing the LA marathon because I had done the training run. I knew I could do it. I just opted not to. I'm confident that I can beat this myeloma. I've made it to two years. But unlike my marathon training, I can't slow my pace. I can't stop. This pace is it. The diligence. The listening to my body. The being thoughtful about what I do. These are all constants. These all carry forward, despite the fact that I broke the tape with my two years accomplishment.

But I am formulating some plans in my head. I'll create a new target, a new finishing line. And dominate on my way to the line.

I do want to thank everyone who has been part of this journey. The support of family and old friends and new fiends has been powerful. 

Did you know that Bid Laden was killed the same day I was diagnosed. Over the past two years, planking and tebowing have come and went.  The Vikings have sucked and became good again. It's been a rapid paced two years. And here I am.

1 comment:

  1. Matt - if hedge funds can get 2 and 20 why can't you? Congrats on your two year milestone. Now let's move on and enjoy the next 20 and beyond.


Berenson Oncology Success Rate

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