Here, in the UK, this week is Myeloma Awareness week. It’s being run by Myeloma UK, an organisation which works tirelessly to promote the interests of those of us who have multiple myeloma – cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.
I was diagnosed with myeloma eight years ago and was stunned because a/ I never expected to be told I had cancer and b/ I had never heard of this particular cancer. Oh, I’d heard about lymphoma and leukaemia, both types of blood cancer, but not myeloma. It was a totally unknown quantity to me and I had a lot to learn.
Unlike the other blood cancers which can be cured, myeloma is incurable. It is treatable, however, if you can find the right treatment for you and one thing we all discover is that what works for one person, doesn’t always work for another. Myeloma is a very personal disease.
I have been extremely fortunate as most of the treatments I have been offered have had a positive effect. Even though I have never been in remission, I have been able to enjoy a really good quality of life over the past eight years and I appreciate that. Oh, there have been down sides; every treatment comes with its own particular side effects, but you learn how to cope with them. My biggest moan is the fact that I have lost so much height. I started out at a fairly respectable 5’ 5” and now just scrape in at a wimpy little 5’. My daughter, Vicky, is 5’ 11” so we look like “little and large” when we go out shopping together!
The really positive effect of having cancer I have discovered is how it changes your attitude to life. I no longer angst about trivial matters and take them in my stride. I also derive huge pleasure from the little things: a walk along the towpath with my dog; smelling the hawthorn blossom first thing in the morning; chatting with friends over coffee/lunch/dinner or whatever; playing with my gorgeous grandchildren, Isobel and Max; and writing my next book.
The love and support I’ve received from my family and friends has kept me focused through the dark periods. My daughter, Vicky, in particular, has been an inspiration with her no-nonsense approach. (Come on, mum. Get a grip. You know you can do this,’ has echoed in my head many times!)
Here’s a photo of Vicky with her husband, Jamie, and the children. Aren’t they gorgeous, not that I’m biased, of course 🙂
So I am dealing with this problem and enjoying life as well, and it’s all down to the care I receive at my local hospital as well as the work that Myeloma UK does. They work tirelessly behind the scenes, organising drug trials, liaising with the various drug companies and the NHS to make new treatments available, and offering advice and support to anyone, patients and carers, who need it. Do check out their website: myeloma.org.uk
It really is worth a visit.
So have you had to deal with an unexpected challenges? And how did they impact on your life? I would love to hear all about your experiences.