Tomorrow, May 14, is the LLS virtual Big Climb. The LLS is an important organization for all blood cancer patients and their caregivers. I've done the Seattle Big Climb twice. Once pre even knowing what myeloma is. And the other time was a couple of years after my diagnosis. Tomorrow I'll do a long walk and incorporate some stairs in a nearby parking structure. I recently hit 11 years since my diagnosis, so the virtual climb is a bit of an acknowledgement about how far I have made it since I was diagnosed.
Thank you all for your donations. And a huge thank you to the anonymous donor who donated $500. Super generous and hugely appreciated. Also thanks to family, friends and loved ones who have supported me through these past 11 years.
And also for good measure, let's recap what my led to my diagnosis. In early 2011, I was riding my bike to work every day. Rain or shine or wind. It was ten miles each way and I loved it. Around February, I started to feel a little tired on my normal ride/commute. Catching my breath, on a final hill before I reached my my office, became more of a chore. As March rolled around, the struggle on my daily ride increased. At first I thought I was just getting older and heavier and that I needed to lose weight and get back into shape. By April, the tiredness followed me everywhere. I was getting night sweats every nights, soaking the sheets. I was also getting low grade fevers. I went to my primary care doctor and he saw something not right in my blood work and he started testing for everything, except cancer and myeloma. I was taking naps at lunch and I recall talking to someone at my desk and I dosed off right in the middle of a conversation. In late April, I was in Las Vegas for a friend's birthday. Within three hours of my arrival, I was burning up and was exhausted. I went to my hotel room, went to bed and was on fire and freaking out a bit. I slept 12 hours and woke up the next day feeling good. Nonetheless, I decided I'd fly back home that day. Before leaving, I met my best friend to let him know what was up. Walking through the casino, I had a strong feeling that I was dying. Scared the crap out of me. The feeling felt strong and was something I knew I couldn't ignore. It was the first of many semi-spiritual occurrences that are a regular part of my 11 years with myeloma. Back home, a doctor called me to say that I was so anemic that he was hospitalizing me immediately. My blood counts were dangerously low. I'd never stayed in a hospital before and it sucks. Anyhow, for 5 days, test after test was run and nobody knew what was wrong me. Eventually a kidney doctor noted that my kidneys were near failure. With that doctor I learned what bad bedside manner is. After five days, Dr Phan, a hematologist, was making the rounds and he knew immediately that I had myeloma. He did a bone marrow biopsy, discharged me and told me to come to his office the next day. On May 2, 2011, with Leslie and my mom, we went to Phan's office. Before we saw him, he had me go to a lab upstairs to run some blood tests. There I was slightly entertained by a heavily tattooed person who was on the phone telling someone he didn't like needles. Anyhow, after the blood draw it was back to Phan's and he gave me/us the news. Shock! I started treatment the very next day and I have been in treatment ever since. Pure craziness. And that's my story, whether I like it or not.