• Mark Pajak

The Horsemen


I will get right to the point. The M-spike re-appeared in my blood numbers. And, while it is at a relatively low level it none the less is back. Grrreat (written very sarcastically)! For about five years I had no M-spike And now, well it’s a different “ballgame”

So, I asked my oncologist “What did this mean?” And much to my chagrin yet totally expected, the answer given by the oncologist was “ well we need to find out” ARGHHHH! Sometimes I still struggle with the reality that definitive answers are carefully doled out.

This I do know for sure (or at least for today) - Living with cancer, while not perfect, beats the alternative of not living. So gratefully I plod on.

And as I plod on down my cancer-life path it occurs to me that there seems to be these “Four Horsemen of the Cancer Apocalypse” accompanying me on my journey. They are powerfully present and dangerous. If allowed, they can really dictate how or what my life will look like and they can do some damage. I must avoid these horsemen.


Horsemen #1: I AM IN CHARGE.

Good gracious, again!I mean how many times do I have to be reminded to avoid this horseman. I am NOT in charge! Accept this already.When I got the M-spike news I instantly am sad/angry/disappointed.You see, I have been doing everything that the docs had asked me to do. I was diligent in taking my medicine and following orders. I listened and adapted, I, I, I ….Yet, here comes the M-spike.Oh that’s right – I am not in charge.Understand please that we are not in charge!Humbling – yes! Worrisome – it can be. Is there anything I can “do” to be in charge – NO!Release the idea of being “in charge”.Accept this, be grateful, and move on.You are not in charge when living with cancer.


Horseman #2: THERE ARE GUARANTEES.

Again what a stupid I am. I know there are no guarantees This holds true whether you have MM or not. Yet I am continually seduced by the idea that maybe there are guarantees.What is it that prevents me from fully understanding a simple concept as “there are no guarantees”. It is one of the rules when playing the game of life. Be it your job, your recreational activities, your love-life, whatever endeavor, guarantees are not to be expected.And if someone tells you they are – very quickly run the other way.There are no guarantees especially when living with cancer.


Horsemen #3: TODAY REPRESENTS THE TOTAL PICTURE.

No it does not! Remember, change is always present. I must understand that change is one of the true-ism in life. To expect that today represents tomorrow – well, what kind of thinking is that? Did I really believe that my numbers would never change? Of course not. I was seduced by the idea of stable numbers because it made life easier. It made having cancer less scary. Less worry. You get the picture. I wanted “things” to stay the same. I wanted “today” to represent the total picture of what my life was going to be like because life with cancer had become somewhat stable. I forgot that today is today and that is all it is. The M-spike is back. But, the change does not mean that I will suffer constantly for the rest of my life. I had a great dinner last night with my wife. I visited with my sons this week over the phone. I laughed at something I heard on the radio the other day. The blood numbers represent a snapshot of my life with cancer – they are not the total picture. I still get to live and have fun if desired. I still get to see sunrises and sunsets. I am going to die. But between here and there it is up to me to remember that life is about snapshots. Today does not represent the total cancer picture.


Horsemen #4: LOOK TO THE FUTURE.

You have got to be kidding. Trust me when I write and you read the following - Stay in the now! I have heard and read this a million times yet I forget.

This morning I got up and had a cup of coffee sitting at our kitchen table eating a banana and a piece of muffin. I was alone as my wife was still sleeping. It’s the middle of summer and I remembered how at one time this was” baseball season” in our house. Our two boys loved playing baseball. My wife and I - we loved it too. This morning I smiled remembering those days. For me this morning was sincerely a great “now” moment - good coffee, a banana and muffin and great memories.

I can stay in the now knowing that I have cancer. I can stay in the now knowing that I am not in charge. I can stay in the now knowing that there are no guarantees.

Staying in the now is really like a winning lottery ticket for those of us living with cancer.

Please, avoid the horsemen. Do not make them your posse. If you do, you are bound to get bucked off.

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