There are everyday challenges living with multiple myeloma while on chemo. It would be easy for me to dwell endlessly on the tasks I’m no longer able to perform, the activities that I can no longer participate in, or the permanent changes to my body due to long-term treatment. However, I believe that type of negativity would make me sad, isolated, and feeling sorry for myself.
Instead, I emphasize positivity in my life. I focus on what I can do and count each day I get out of my bed as a success. I counter chemo side effects and symptoms of my disease (both known and unknown), with a belief that cancer will not bring me down. I do fun things that make me happy. I try to laugh each day.
I like to reward myself with mental gold stars each time I do something challenging such as navigating transit successfully to visit a friend, helping someone lost with directions, or coordinating my next specialist appointment. Emphasizing my successes helps me maintain a positive outlook on life. I’m all about moving forward, at a pace that is acceptable to me.
Cancer is what I have, it is not who I am.
To recap: On Sunday, March 4th, I completed Cycle 40 Week 4. I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable. Since February 9th 2015, I have been on Pomalyst and dexamethasone chemo treatment (Pom/dex). On July 16th, my dexamethasone treatment ended, due to eye damage, reported by my Glaucoma Specialist, from long-term use. On January 9th I began Ninlaro chemo to combat steadily rising cancer levels.
Weekly chemo-inspired self-portraits can be viewed in my flickr album.