Time for Reflections

9 – 10 – 11

As our Nation reflects and mourns the loss of thousands… I can’t help but reflect on how fortunate and blessed I am to still be here… but for very different reasons…
I heard on the news that many of the 9-11 “First Responders” are now suffering from various types of Cancers… and prominent among the cancers affecting these brave men and women that rushed to the scene to assist…. is MULTIPLE MYELOMA!

What!!!????!!!!! Multiple Myeloma…. my cancer!!!

On one hand I am honored to be associated with those so brave…
On the other hand… how did Myeloma manage to invade my squeaky clean universe???

And so I reflect….

I’ve never worked in any industry remotely involving chemical contaminants…
But perhaps the cement buildings I’ve worked in all my life triggered something molecularly within me?
Perhaps living close to freeways spewing noxious auto fumes and smog triggered something?
Perhaps living close to active oil fields (where I used to ride horses!) triggered something?
Perhaps living close to a co-generation plant triggered something?
Perhaps using fly-spray on my horses (as occasional as it was) triggered something?
Perhaps all the dental and orthodontic x-rays I received in the years prior to diagnosis triggered something?
Perhaps my personal biology has been outta whack since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my early teens?
And I can’t help but associate a benign (neuroma) tumor I had removed 11 years prior to MM diagnosis…

I know though, I’ll never know why I grew cancer cells within me, or what caused it …

I know there are a lot of things I’ll never know…
but I do know that my mortality stares me in the face more often now, and I do suspect I will not have the longevity my mother did, and my dad currently does!
I do know my “days are numbered” in a way they weren’t before…

As I reflect on my Myeloma Diagnosis, and as people ask me often:
Did I have any Symptoms, any signs I had cancer; was I not feeling well those months, weeks, days prior to diagnosis?
I now reflect with a retrospective “Ah-Ha I do remember” awareness that I did have signs; but honestly, I attributed them all to my Very Busy Life at that time.

In 2009, prior to Diagnosis, I was:
Very Tired and Fatigued
Had hard to stop Bloody nose episodes very often
Had (what I thought was typical mid life female) extreme Bleeding
Had weird Headaches (and I never really ever had headaches, ever)
Had lightheaded, Dizzy, woozy, I-feel-like-I-could-pass-out episodes
Was Thinner than I had ever been (and enjoying that!!)
I was very Winded and Breathless when I walked short distances
Had unexplained Bone aches and pains
Had a few more Illnesses than I usually did
My pre-diagnosis Blood tests revealed I was super Anemic
And I was just sooooooo tired and soooooo fatigued…

But I chalked it all up to how much I was doing at the time….
NOW I know many of these were symptoms-
Symptoms of something I didn’t know to know were symptoms
Because, WHO IN THE WORLD WOULD EVER THINK I, JULIE, WOULD HAVE CANCER!

So my “New Normal” marches forward
FUN is the name of my game…
Happy trips and whacky hair hats!
Still on Revlimid maintenance Chemo (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off)
And just look at the hair it grows on me (and Jim vicariously)!
The life clock goes tick, tick, tick
So the bucket list goes click, click, click