• Mark Pajak

My Oh My!!!



Please humor me this month OK. This month is different. Put away the blood numbers talk and the concern about neutrophil levels. Table all thoughts about potential bone marrow transplants and CAR T cell therapy. Stop worrying about what is to come.

This month I celebrate! This month is for celebration. You are welcomed to join me.

GO AVS!!!

When I was first diagnosed, I lamented quite a bit about all that I would miss because I now had cancer. I grew up in an era where the word cancer could easily be a substitute for the word death. You got cancer and then you died. It was that simple.

Without any information about current treatments and successes and without any inclination towards the effectiveness of new therapies being constantly developed I lamented about all the “things” I would miss because I was going to die soon.

My list included not being able to retire on my own terms (I was fifty-eight at the time of diagnosis), not living long enough to collect social security, not being able to witness too many more birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, grandchildren, and other notable events in my family’s life.

So much to lament about. But the one item that got me really tee ’ed off was the idea that I was going to die before one of my “teams” won a championship of any sorts. AGHHH.

Growing up in Cleveland Ohio, I followed the Browns and Indians (Guardians as of this season). Suffice to say the chances of me witnessing a championship from either of those two franchises were/are slim and none and “Slim just left town.”

Back in 2004 for some silly reason that escapes me now, I made a commitment to go “all in” on one other team. I began to follow with gusto the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. A good organization with two Stanley Cups to their credit prior to my coming on board. They play in Denver. With me living in Laramie Wyoming, it was a natural fit.

I became an Avalanche fan. And, since 2004, they have been so-so. Making the playoffs eight times in 15 years however never close to reaching the height of Stanly Cup Champions. They reminded me of the Indians/Guardians - good but never great. Their/my nadir was the 2016/17 season when they were the worse team in the NHL by a wide margin.

However, today, this month, I can say to all “lament no more!” Why may you ask? Well let me tell you – the AVS WON THE STANLEY CUP!!!

With Jared Bednar at the helm and hockey players like Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Miko Rantanen, Cale Makar, Nazem Kadri, Devon Toews and two goalies named Keumper and Francouz, the Avs conquered all. That is right, they won the Stanley Cup. I repeat, they won the Stanley Cup. On June 26, 2022, my team won it all. It is for real. It is not a dream. The Avs won the Stanley Cup!

And so, I celebrate. I revel in their success. I cannot stop reading articles about the Finals series. I have been spending way too much time searching the internet for additional articles about the team and the Finals series. I admit that I have watched Game 6 – the Cup clincher – four times in addition to watching the game live. And each time, the AVS WIN!!!. Yes, I know this borders on crazy. Fortunately for me, my wife is an Avs fan and so she too has been celebrating. However, she has only seen Game 6 twice and she missed the better part of the second period on the re-watch.

Since my diagnosis and the subsequent trials and tribulations that come when you live with a disease like cancer/Multiple Myeloma, celebrations have been at times muted or at least put into the perspective of a mindset that says, “yea I am happy but ….”

I have lived long enough to retire on my own terms. I am collecting social security. My wife and I are going to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary in a few days (God willing and the creek don’t rise). No grandkids or weddings however I have seen our boys grow up into responsible men who make me believe that the future will be fine.

Which gets me back to the Avs and the importance of being diligent to the joys in our lives no matter how that is defined. The key I believe is in making sure we identify, nurture and care for that which brings us joy.

This past week I found out that unbridled joy was still possible. Cancer or no cancer, the Avs won, and I whooped and hollered and even drove to Denver to attend the championship parade.

Seems silly I know. But let me tell you that I lament no more about my teams not winning.

Next month is for seriousness and concern and adult-like perspectives on treatments, drug protocols and side effects.

This month I celebrate. GO AVS!!!

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