My family motto is Dulcius Ex Asperis. It is Latin for sweeter after difficulties. To say that someone with Multiple Myeloma has difficulties is an understatement, but what do you do when the difficulties are with you forever?
I’m not a deeply religious person, but I was raised a Christian and I hold to those beliefs. As we wrap up observing the Easter holiday, I can’t help but be reminded that like Jesus, we all have our crosses to bear. Each and every one of us will face difficulties and we all have a choice on how we react to them. I choose to be optimistic. I choose to be determined. I choose to look ahead to a time when I won’t have the problems that I do today. It would be great if it was in this life, but if not….. the next life will have to do!
I had a difficult childhood where I was bullied at school and abused at home. When it was time to decide what to do with my life, I joined the Marines at 17 so that I could get as far away from my family and situation as I could. I spent a very long time trying to make other people happy and earn their respect, but it never came. That opened another wound and the cycle would continue. It took me decades to finally learn how to deal with what happened in my life and stop looking for other people’s approval.
Just when things were going well, I decided to go get a physical and my life would forever be changed. I would be told that I have this condition called MGUS and I needed to see an oncologist. The rest is history. Here I am on the Myeloma roller coaster for my 535rd day. I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve had reactions to Rev/Dex. I’ve gone through the stem cell transplant process. I’ve seen the discrimination and stigma that comes with this disease. I’ve watched the bills come in and wonder how I was ever going to pay for any of it. That’s a lot of crosses to bear for just one person.
I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve had a sunny disposition all of the time. This truly sucks. The way that I make it through and keep amazing people with my attitude is simple. I focus on the good things that I have. I’ve built a great life. I have a wife and daughter that remind me every day that I’m loved. As a retired Marine, I have brothers from other mothers that would give their life to help me with mine. I have a growing online network of friends that continue to root for me as I go through this process.
More importantly, I’ve woken up for 535 consecutive days. No matter what happens, the sun will rise every day. What I do during those days and how I act during those days is what sets the tone for how I face this disease and hopefully how other people learn to face it as well.
How will you face your challenge today?