I know prolonged stress can raise a person’s susceptibility to illness, but cancer never crossed my mind as a possibility … until it did.
The plasmacytoma squeezed a spontaneous fracture and crushed the bones holding my head up… parts removed, stuff added, then fused 🙂 bionic-like, with a titanium plate. This was October 19, 2012. I was diagnosed on Multiple Myeloma, stage II, at 37 years old, on December 4, 2012. MM is the invisible beast, the sleeping monkey on my back. MM affects bone marrow and bones, and becomes aggressive … with stress.
Just 1 mm away from paralyzation -expert doctors could not see it. They sent me home after 1st ambulance ride to ER. By 2nd trip a week later… the doctors quickly sprang into action to stabilize me. For the first time in 40 years of life, I hold my head up, and look people in the eyes. My mind, heart, and soul were (fortunately) rebooted as that small wrecking ball hit me in the throat.
I am still alive and breathing against all odds. I try to live each day mindful of that. I recognize the physical and mental recovery needed, and act in forgiveness of others, to include myself. Unfortunately, psychology & stressors create fearful uncertainties in a person blindly navigating life as an adult. Grateful for ‘logistical timing’ during difficult moments. I became the strong captain of my family’s life ship through the worst of storms.
Spiritually, I said the prayers and accepted christian salvation at age 14, and at age 18 committed my life to service before self. I became a missionary willing to travel in pursuit of serving others in Jesus name. Mother Theresa and Michelangelo were my role models. Ignorant of catholicism, and identifing as southern-baptist, with non-denominational tendencies, but finally resting with the united methodist church. I have studied world religions, participated in most traditional & contemporary styles of worship, many healing services, blessings, baptisms, christenings, and STILL feel unease about some religious organizations. I was a Jesus freak passing out tracts to happy drinkers on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras in the 1990’s with my Baptist Student Union friends. Internally I was a God-chaser in search of some great Revival. I also naively dreamed of ways to connect to the rest of the planet in a real way.
I am among many, mindful-spiritual-beings- + follow the basic teachings of Christ and Buddha + positive others. My Faith is personal and intellectual… Not every person is ready to hear things I say. I do not judge how a person chooses an internal belief system, unless… they personally have a proven history of harming others or to impose control on others. I choose continued education in Human Rights and Social Justice because these are issues I am passionate about. My internal struggle is, the faith I claimed, never quite made sense for 25 years.
Happy. Hopeful, Yes… but No, not Content- a work in progress. Hoping for ‘remission’. (I’m classified as in Partial-Remission?) Not Cancer-Free, but chronic pain free & mentally clear :). Not enough money in the bank, or having the house I wanted, or the college degree level I desired (but that is only a temporary status update). The Good News: Physically, emotionally, and spiritually I am tALIVE and AWAKE. What I know, is the more I do not know. I am grateful for the opportunity to keep living.
The title survivor, unexpected, is due to fear in my brain, 5-7 years away from death. (The spine fracture, spinal chord injury, and fusion) …Sprinkled with 4 years of chemotherapy/radiation. Possessing corrupt mental data, made some calculated choices and decisions. The results of Best Intentions not realized, but finding new ways to solve life problems. I was always poor at math, so… not surprised. I think it is wrong to assume I can ‘blindly follow my bliss’ in the world as it is today. We are all connected and what we do and say to others matters more than how much stuff we want.
Here we are, in Maryland, it’s summer of 2017, and my intent is to remain mindful and positive, no matter the circumstance. Reality can be dark and twisty, humor may reflect it in my stories. I am a thinker, choose different paths, and consider myself a Patriotic American Veteran. However, some born in USA do not appreciate the rights they inherently possess. I think, those who have to fight to be here… get it. Sadly, the Mean Girl culture of exclusivity, and belief that He who has the most toys Wins, does not paint the best human picture.
I live and die for the right to know truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to know, and help as many people I can along my journey. My desire is to be a fully plugged in. Politically, I am Independent (thinking). I believe living things desire and “deserve” to be treated with respect, and that humans need a moral compass to help do the least harm to others while attempting to live. Differences in size, shape, color, mental, spiritual, physical or emotional status should be celebrated, and not problems to solve or eliminate. I see no point in being so politically correct as to encourage or allow other humans to behave in ways to offend or traumatize others without a consequence for those actions.
It would be odd if I said that my life was not changed while going through my first stem cell transplant, and then the second one. June 2013, my rebirth year. I started writing about the journey. Sharing my stories with humor was always therapeutic but fun, but the message I intended was not what was presented at first. If you were to ask any person that knows me… My brain processes data and energy 24/7, and faster than my tongue can translate. Talking a blue streak while nervous and joking inappropriately when scared, socially awkward and over-confident in defense of others but not myself.
In the past, I trusted unsafe people and daily, experience consequences of those choices. Fear infiltrated my soul from as far back as I can remember, and it disrupted life utterly. Today, some irrational fears (or working on those) are gone as well as some of mortality ones, even with that mm monkey. I write thoughts in order to process it all and not break down from the weight of it. Real life has afforded me stories to share and hopefully it will inspire others still struggling…. Becoming a warrior via cancer is not the worst thing, if you really take a look at the bigger picture. 😊