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  • Writer's pictureMark Pajak

Operating Small


It is just about Fall.

As a personal update, we are working towards a Car T cell therapy protocol for the treatment of my Multiple Myeloma. My numbers have been slowly going up and coupled with a few other side effects it appears once again time for a change.

At some point, we will run out of options for the management of my disease. That is not now, not today. For this I am grateful. I went through a bone marrow transplant eight plus years ago and that was pretty tough. I have been told that the Car T cell protocol is a bit less dramatic. We shall see. I will try to keep you updated as time passes.

Humility comes with many nuanced definitions. It has been defined as a modest view of one’s importance, a state of being humble, a position of simply being void of pride, arrogance, and pretentiousness.

From my perspective it is a key ingredient in dealing with MM and can be described as coping, surviving, and accepting circumstances as they are presented and then being humble enough to revel in that which has been given.

For those of us who were relatively healthy prior to our diagnosis, it can come as a shock to be witness to the ever present need for someone else (and in most cases someone who you have only recently met and do not really know) to tell you what to do, when to do it and how to do it (it being the management of MM) if you desire to continue on your life’s journey. It is almost beyond my comprehension to accept and endorse a situation where someone else has an especially important role to play in my desire to stay alive, which I believe is the most basic of desires a person can have.

Yet, this is how it is for me. Oh, I get that I am still very responsible for how I live. I watch what I eat, exercise on a routine basis, and even get my flu shot in the Fall. However, my oncologist, the nurses and the PA’s that tend to my cancer go a long way in making sure I can still try to eat healthy, exercise and get my flu shot. They are working to keep me alive. They work to keep all of us cancer carriers alive. OK, let me write that again, they are working to keep me alive. WOW.

If understanding that reality is anything but humbling, well, I need to go back to school and rethink much.

How lucky I am to be able to be humble.

I have found that it is difficult to be prideful when in the care of someone else. It is difficult to be pretentious, haughty, or arrogant when so many others are doing so much for my benefit. Yes, I am grateful but for me, the situation leads to humility.

Pre-MM me was an uncertain work in progress regarding the benefits of humility. Since being diagnosed, I have come to understand, respect, and really like the idea of humility. I guess I would conclude that it is the only way to go.

Recently, I was visiting with the nurse who was drawing my blood and when asked about her job she said she loves her work. She said that most cancer patients do not mind being at the hospital. In working in some of the other areas of the hospital, often times she tended to people who really did not want to be where they found themselves to be. Confrontational, angry, just not very pleasant is how she described many. I laughed to myself because that pretty much described me whenever I was in a hospital for “treatment” prior to my diagnosis. Oh, dear God, I am so so sorry for being such an ass.

It is so nice not to be arrogant, haughty, pompous, or pretentious. I have found that it makes life so much more enjoyable and easy. I must work at this, but the efforts have been rewarding. Gee, in writing what I just wrote I hope I am not coming across as a know-it-all pompous you know what.

Humility helps me let go. It helps me understand that I do not have to be/am not in control of MM. I do not have to be totally healthy. In fact, I am not - I have cancer. It helps me move forward as much as the docs and nurses have helped me move forward.

Eventually, I have been made to understand that people run out of options in the treatment of MM/cancer. This I accept. But between then and now, humility has helped me manage the very uncertain path that we are all on.

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