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  • Writer's pictureMark Pajak

A Simple Reminder


It is Spring and as such, tangible evidence of a renewal or new beginnings usually creeps into my general consciousness/awareness. The start of another baseball season. The start of the gardening season. The perennials begin to emerge and soon they bloom. Tree’s leaf out and begin to show green. Our bird feeder gets busy with activity. A new beginning. For me, it is a reminder of renewal.

The knowledge of this renewal, of this new beginning brings comfort and a bit of relief. It sort of lets me have a “do over” each Spring. That is the beauty of a new beginning, the beauty of a renewal.

Getting diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma/cancer was also a new beginning.

For the longest time, I failed to recognize my diagnosis as an opportunity for a new beginning.

At first, I looked at having MM as some kind of curse. The curse of cancer. Then as time progressed and I began to experience what “living with cancer” felt like, I looked at MM as some sort of “cross” to bear. My cancer was a burden and something that I would have to reluctantly accept. It was nasty, non-desirable and scary. I was sad and disappointed because the way I saw it, the only “beginning” getting a diagnosis of cancer set up was a very stark reminder that this was the beginning of “the end.” There was no sense of renewal. There was only a sense of dread. There was no beauty.

Live and learn.

I must be a slow learner because only after some eight plus years am I able to write the following: I understand that my cancer/MM diagnosis was not only a new beginning and also very much an opportunity for renewal.

That is right. After a bone marrow transplant, various drug protocols and treatments, hospital visits and consultations with the oncologist and the considerable time spent on blood numbers and monoclonal peak analysis, it finally dawned on me that all of this, all this having MM is both a new beginning and an opportunity for renewal.

Of course, the “new beginning” part of this is very evident and easily understood. Living with cancer is quite different than living without cancer. There are so many adjustments and compromises that must be made to survive. Taking pills, getting chemo treatments, losing your hair and a more pronounced and sustained fatigue are just some of the new circumstances or “beginnings” that must be adopted/accepted.

However, it is this idea or understanding of “renewal” that I am most grateful for and most interested in cultivating.

Renewal can be described as an activity that resumes after an interruption. I certainly experienced an interruption to my life after my diagnosis. As time passed, however, the interruption(s) became routine and I began to understand or realize that rather than looking at life with interruptions, I could change my perspective and begin to view each day as an opportunity for renewal. Each day I get to renew. I get the opportunity to take what I have learned in life and extend it to others. I can extend kindness and sincerity. I can extend to others compassion and gratefulness. Each day I can renew the values and traditions that have been used in defining my life. Each day, I can renew the lessons that I have been taught and have valued throughout my life.

What a gift I have been given,

The idea of “renewal” through a cancer diagnosis and subsequent lifestyle did not come easy or immediately. Truth be written, it has been difficult for me to routinely remember the available renewal paradigm.

I can choose to be very petulant and moody. It is easy for me to bemoan my existence and circumstances. Sometimes complaining is so comforting. I cannot begin to estimate the number of times I have forgotten about the renewal aspect of living with cancer/MM and the opportunity I have been gifted to extend to others each day.

It is not often that I take the time to ponder on my “blessings.” This month, however, I am trying to do just that. I am trying to manifest the gift of renewal that is evident in Spring and make it real in my life and the lives of others.

I know that what I write is easy to put on paper. I also know that living with cancer/MM is usually not so easy. However, many have gone before me, and they have succeeded in renewing their lives under circumstances that are much more extreme and trying than having MM as a constant companion.

So, here is Spring, new beginnings and renewals. No guarantees that this success will be consistent or achieved. There is however a lightness of mind or maybe a cleaner attitude that comes with starting over or with renewal. My task is to be mindful enough to remember that simple thought.

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