WARNING: This Is Real Talk. No Crying Allowed.
“I won’t let it beat me. I’m going to beat it.”
Those are the words I find myself repeating more than a few hundred times a day, as of late. Last week I was diagnosed with stage III Multiple Myeloma. I wish I had more told you about the disease, but like I said, just seven days ago I was diagnosed. I had no idea this type of cancer even existed; forget even thinking this is how I would probably die. I thought maybe a car accident, old age, a spider bite (since those little hairy things are the spawns of Satan), but never did I think I would be diagnosed with cancer, at age thirty.
The chance of a woman getting Myeloma, under the age of thirty five, is 1%. -- Just 1%. It is most common among African American males, over the age of sixty five. I don’t know why, but that makes me laugh a little bit -- and you have to laugh. It’s not curable, as of it yet, but medicine is changing like crazy right now, even as I type this blog. I have my young age, healthy organs, and bones working for me. Just today, the nurse told me that all my labs and blood work are beautiful. I'm extremely healthy, except for this tiny incurable disease; healthy as a horse. The doctor initially gave me a life expectancy of eight years, but there are stem cells, bone marrow transplants, and chemo that can add on many more. Most importantly, I’m staying positive. I know that I won’t let this disease beat me. I will beat it.
A lot of things have gone through my mind between that day when I was first diagnosed, and today. I would like to just share some of that tonight. I’m not here to lecture or give a speech about how life is short and we all should live life to the fullest… I don’t have some revelation or big epiphany where all this makes sense, or the reason why we are here on earth. Nope. Ask the aliens because I have no idea. Mainly, this isn't supposed to be a motivational uplifting blog. I don't want to write about that. This whole time I was listening to the doctors about how sick I am, I didn't go through any of those emotions, because I already knew before I was even diagnosed! Ever since I was a kid that was just the kind of attitude I had towards my life, and how I wanted to live. I just wanted to purely and simply live it. I feel blessed to still have that attitude now. It has saved me in more ways than one.
SO, with all that being said, let’s dive in…
It all started with nose bleeds. Well, it all started with constantly feeling extremely tired. Like cinder blocks were tied to every limb on my body and every day I had to wake up, was such a struggle. I thought for a long time that I was just getting older; my bones were just achy after walking to work and long shifts at work. Or, that I was just tired because I went out with my friends a few nights in a row and my body was just sick of alcohol. I guess I started noticing that something was wrong when I was watching TV, or someone really fit walked by me in the mall and I would envy their body so much. Not because I wanted to look like them or hump them in a dark corner, I wanted their health. I wanted to feel as good as they looked, without a sunken face or black circles under my eyes. I wanted to walk how they walked, without a limp or without having to cringe every time I sat down on the toilet. I wanted to walk up the stairs and get to the top without being out of breath, or get out of the shower without immediately having to sit down on the bed, because even that was too tiring for me. I didn’t notice that all these things were symptoms of something bigger. I almost want to call myself stupid -- but I just didn’t know it was that serious. The nosebleeds started more frequently and with more and more blood. That’s when the trip to the ER came into play. Even then, I was somehow still convinced that it was just a type of anemia and it would be easily fixed. BUT, that was not at all how it turned out.
The day you hear you have cancer is a day you won’t forget… The room, the smell, the Doctors’ facial expressions, your Mom’s watery eyes, the silence, the breathing, everything. After I floated outside my body, I felt myself put a warm blanket over my eyes and started sobbing. Ten minutes later, I was admitted to the hospital. Twenty minutes later, I was sitting on my hospital bed meeting my nurses. An hour later, I was hooked up to machines and pumped full of all sorts of drugs, (I refused to put on the hospital gown until I had to. I don’t like hospital gowns; they make you feel like such a helpless patient. I kept my street clothes on as long as I could). A day later, I was having procedures left and right. Poked. Prodded. Stuck. Picked. Drained. Two days later, I was taking my first round of Chemotherapy and having bone samples taken out of my hip, from a needle. Just a few days after being told I had a disease called Myeloma, just a few weeks after working and going out with my friends, I was in a small room undergoing Chemotherapy. Talk about how fast things can change, huh? It’s been so wild.
I went through so many emotions at first. And the physical pain is a whole different ball game that I can’t even get into, or else I’ll make myself physically sick, vomit all over this keyboard, and delete all of this writing. I wasn’t exactly angry at anything or anybody; I just didn’t understand how this happened or why it happened. I was greedy at first, saying fifteen years isn’t long enough (which is the typical, maximum life expectancy). I have so much more I want to do with my life. I don’t want someone to tell me that it all will end when I’m forty five years old. But then my mom said something that was true. “You could die tomorrow. A lot of people don’t even have a tomorrow.” So that slapped me back into realityand to be thankful for what I do have, and do things that I want to do with the time given. Each patient is different; there is no way to know for certain what my number will be. So I have let that part of it go and live in the moment
I’m grateful for all my family and friends. I could NOT and would NOT have been able to do any of this without them. They have been there every step; especially, my Mom. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age thirty four and went through Chemo, too. Not to mention, had my sister and me to raise. I don't know she did it, but she is my inspiration. She helps me and she’s patient with me when I get cranky and upset. My girlfriend has been amazing, too. I couldn't ask for a better partner to help me during this time. Even though it has been hard on her, she has remained steady and by my side, and I feel like I can do anything with her holding my hand. Also, every day that I was in the hospital last week, there was a different friend that would come visit -- I was never alone. Some of the same friends would even visit multiple times during the week. I was sent hoodies, candy, gifts, and a get well card from everyone I work with. I’ve never felt so loved and protected as I do right now.
I most certainly have a really long road ahead of me. I can’t wait to write and to feel everything, in the weeks to come – the good and the bad. This is my journey and I’ve already amazed myself with finding out just how strong I am, and how strong the people that love me and care about are, too. We all need strength. Despite it all, I feel lucky. And this won’t beat me, I will beat it.