Countdown to chemo 5: I can feel cancer in my blood and it’s messing with my mind

Where can I press reset on today?September 2012: Not feeling so hot leading into 2013 chemo

For me to make it through each day living with multiple myeloma, it is important that I counteract the negativity of cancer. Although my symptoms can be quite challenging at times, I have to socialize. I can’t just hide away in a corner, hoping everything will get better. I need to remain positive and not let stress overwhelm me, in spite of the fact, I can feel cancer in my blood.

It was about 6 weeks ago that my Hematologist told me the news, my cancer had returned. I had hoped I would be in complete remission for years, however it only lasted 8 months. On a cool October day my visions for my future got dropkicked. My focus turned to survival – financially, emotionally, physically from that moment on.

Being my own caregiver makes each day rather interesting. I’m unable to support myself so life is quite challenging. Right now, I remain focused on staying calm and avoiding excessive stress in my life. I need to minimize the likelihood that my cancer levels spike. Each day my levels increase, my multiple myeloma and anemia symptoms become more pronounced. Although I should be focusing on proper preparation for 2015 chemo, my mind continues to wander back to my 9 months of chemo in 2013. The actual date and particular drugs for my 2015 treatment are still unknown, however chemo will happen. No off-ramp on this highway.

Autumn sunsets make my happyOctober 2012: Reflecting on an autumn sunset

Upon learning my cancer re-emerged, I retreated into a “Why now?” cocoon and only recently have I emerged resigned to the realities of my eroding health. By resigned, I don’t mean that I’m staring at a calendar counting down to treatment, but rather that I’ve accepted the realities that come with an incurable, terminal blood cancer. The cancer doesn’t hide forever. Although, I felt like I was drop kicked, I know that I need to be better prepared for chemo side effects this time around than I was in 2013. I worry that I’m not strong enough.

I’m experiencing a variety of multiple myeloma symptoms:

  • tinkling in my body
  • memory problems
  • difficulty in recognizing people
  • problems with counting
  • easily confused
  • feeling overwhelmed in group settings
  • lack of focus

For example: On Friday, I picked up a free 24 hours Vancouver newspaper 3 separate times through the day and put it in my backpack. Each time I thought, “I don’t have a 24 hours and I need to get one”. Today I was sure I needed Bus X to get where I was going and waited at the bus stop. After getting on the bus, the bus driver asked where I was going. I them realized, I didn’t need Bus X, but actually Bus Y and walked to a different bus stop location.

I met someone on a bus in October, we chatted for about 30 minutes and I told them about my cancer and how I wouldn’t recognize them when we met again. When I saw them by chance a few weeks later, they said hi and asked if I recognized them. When I said no, they said that was OK, because I had warned them that would happen if we met again. It is unlikely I will recognize a stranger that I spoke with yesterday. There is also a low likelihood I will recognize a friend that I haven’t seen in at least a month.

Overall, there are daily challenges dealing with multiple myeloma and anemia symptoms. Can’t do this alone. Can you offer help or advice?

Nitobe Memorial Garden UBCApril 2014: UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden

To recap: I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. It is incurable, but treatable. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. In October, I found out my cancer had returned, and sometime in 2015, I expect to be in treatment again.

I love photography, it is important for my health and happiness. I haven’t taken many photos since my macbookpro died during the summer though. You can view my pictures on Pinterest.

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