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Sometimes it – IS – cancer

stem cell machineI just finished directing a local high school’s production of Beauty and the Beast and was wondering what I could post on my blog. I could post about how rewarding it is to work with high school students, using my experience in musical theater to enhance students’ artistic lives or maybe just helping them have a good time while they work toward their production dates. I could post about how excited I am about my family’s summer vacation ( Walt Disney World!) which I just finished booking. I could even post about my new client or my next book project. All of these experiences are good news, but there is news that tops it all. The best news is that a family member is still with us, healthy and alive. This might not have happened had it not been for a doctor who took the time to get to know his new patient, call the hospital to see who the neurologist was on duty that day, and sent his new patient to the Emergency Department right from his office.

Since this story is not completely mine to tell, suffice it to say this person is very close to me – a family member. Other close friends and family members know who I am talking about, but I ask they don’t mention the name in their comments should they choose to comment. I can tell you what I know about the cancer he has been fighting and will continue to fight until there is a cure. Multiple Myeloma is basically an incurable cancer that attacks the plasma cells in the bone marrow. In fact, he had 90% plasma in his bone marrow when he hit the ER. It can cause issues with the kidneys, bones and may lead to lesions on the bones. Symptoms vary per patient, but this person’s symptoms were fatigue and an odd gait to his walk which is what led him to make an appointment with a doctor. That’s it. The tumor they found during that week in the hospital saved his life, in my opinion. If the tumor on his spine had not caused the funny gait, he never would have gone to the doctor. I mean who isn’t tired as a parent working all day and taking care of a family?

What followed was a few weeks of radiation, many months of chemotherapy and steroids, and a stem cell transplant involving retrieval of his own stem cells first. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy, but it was a blessing because it may have worked. We are hopeful he is in remission now. In fact, I won’t rest until I hear that word, “remission.” After that, he will be on several years ( as many as 5 or more) of maintenance therapy to stay alive with the hope that there will be a cure should it ever return. Since the diagnosis there have been several new drugs approved by the FDA, so the cure may be close, or so we are told.

So, I sit here recovering from Production Week, plotting my next book and answering emails that have been sitting in my inbox for a while. (Did I say I was sick for about 4 weeks along with most of my cast? They were able to stay home. I had to go to rehearsals.) I am beyond grateful my life is getting back to normal, or at least a new normal. Life will never be normal until they find a cure, but I can enjoy the normal I have for now.

The point? Enjoy every single day. It’s as simple as that.

Every. Single. Day.

3 Responses

  1. writerobrien63

    Thanks so much! I plan on writing a book for caregivers that includes humor. We all have to come from a place of humor to deal with this stuff, right? Anyway, thank you so much for contacting me. I’m about to post a new post and am working on getting back into the swing of work now that the kiddoes are heading back to school. Stay tuned!


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