Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tom Brokaw has multiple myeloma - Never doubt the tough battle of a cancer survivor

Tom Brokaw announced today that he is fighting multiple myeloma. It is a tough disease. Yes, it is treatable. No, it is not curable. Much progress has been made over the past several years. But it is a long and hard fight. By the time I'm done with my initial protocol, it will be almost three years from diagnosis.

Which brings me to today's post. Never, ever doubt or second guess a cancer warrior's battle, struggle, strength or courage.

When I was diagnosed with cancer on January 6, 2012 and left my husband just a week later, he did everything he could to threaten, bully, ridicule and taunt me. I'm sharing the email below, which Rob sent to his entire family and then forwarded to me. It was just 13 days after I was told "you have cancer."

From: Rob
To: peggy, Kathy, chris
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012

Liz has Myeloma (isolated) and treatable, not multiple. I have way more exposure to help her. Liz, based on my emails is now taking care of business and understanding that she really f'd herself. One day at a time... I am to Work, train for a marathon, go to a family retreat, run a marathon, and go to Costa Rica. And I will continue to kick Utah Butt. Take care and thanks.

I suppose that leaving an alcoholic just days after being told that I had cancer meant that I fucked myself by leaving him. ?? This just makes me so ... Numb. Sad. Horrified. So I'm going to make this into something good. I'll let this email be the catalyst for educating my readers on myeloma.

Myeloma and Multiple Myeloma are one and the same thing. There is no such thing as "Myeloma (isolated)." I would actually understand that the lay person not know this. Except I actually told Rob specifically that I had a highly aggressive form of myeloma and I was terrified. Not only did I tell him this, but I handed him a copy of the diagnosis letter from my oncologist. It was a very long letter, very detailed, and extremely frightening. When I read the letter, I almost lost it. I had taken the girls to a swimming pool with a stack of mail to read while I waited for them. There I was in the bleachers, opening up mail when I came upon that letter. I started sobbing right there in front of confused onlookers. It wasn't pretty.


An excellent view of my port on the left side of my chest. That port provides access to intravenous drugs of Velcade and Aridia that I get at clinic as part of my two year maintenance therapy. I used to hate it because it's ugly but I don't anymore. I love it and, heck, as long as William thinks it's sexy, that's all that matters anyway. I rock it, love it, never try to hide it. It's my mark of courage.

Let me state for the record that any cancer diagnosis is hell. It is scary and deadly. Never take anyone's battle with cancer lightly or brush it off as "no big deal." All cancer is a HUGE deal. And my myeloma was not only a VERY BIG DEAL, but it was highly aggressive and very advanced. At diagnosis, I was a stage III. I had 95% cancer cells in my bone marrow with some of the most threatening chromosomal abnormalities to boot. Treating me, according to my oncologist, was going to be very tricky and difficult. Each cancer is different. Each myeloma is different. But, I assure you, there is no such thing as a myeloma that's just, well, a snap and simple.

We cancer warriors are brave, amazing, resilient people We have to be. Ours is a tough battle. I'll win it. I have incredibly amazing people around me. I am blessed. But this is not an easy struggle. Be  kind to every single person with cancer. It's just the right thing to do. No exceptions.

Thanks for reading. God bless the cancer community.