• Mark Pajak

Right Here!



“Remember that everything that has happened to you, all your previous experiences, your triumphs and failures, your sorrows and your joys have led you to where you are right now. And right now, you are where you are supposed to be”

Sage advice heard on a recent podcast


It is common for me to wonder about how I got to be where I am right now. I guess these kinds of thoughts should be expected when I recognize that June is my birthday month and at some point, in the next 30 days, I will most assuredly reflect on the passing of another twelve months. Man, time flies.

For the past seven plus years I have been living with Multiple Myeloma. As I have written before, there was no one who was more surprised than I when I got that diagnosis.

Multiple Myeloma? Cancer? What in heavens name is going on? Those were the thoughts or remarkably close to the thoughts I had when first confronted with this disease. I just never imagined that I would get cancer.

For about 5.5 years after my bone marrow transplant, I settled into a routine that became comfortable. Daily pill taking, monthly blood draws that extended to quarterly blood draws. Monitoring my health was my new job. For the most part it was quite easy to live with Multiple Myeloma. Then in October 2020 we noticed that the blood numbers were changing, the monoclonal peak was back. The drug protocol involving Revlimid seemed to be less effective and in fact it was decided to look at a new plan.

In March 2021, we started a new drug protocol involving daily Pomalyst and monthly Darzalex treatments and have since been tweaking dosage levels as well as treatment frequency to keep the cancer at bay while minimizing the most critical current negative side effect of a low neutrophil level. Almost 18 months later, we are still searching for the right combination. Who knows?

All of which brings me to the quote that appears at the top of this post which allows me to consider that maybe, just maybe, I am right where I am supposed to be.

For me, there is comfort to draw from the idea of being right where I am supposed to be. It helps me understand and accept how/what living with cancer is about. It makes having MM a little less scary.

I have had Multiple Myeloma for a measurable amount of my life (over 11%) and it is now difficult to imagine what my life would “look like” without MM. Yes, there are times when thoughts about all the “lucky ones” living without cancer creep into my consciousness. I am not perfect. But truth be written, I am a realist who accepts the path I am on. Believing that I am right where I am supposed to be helps.

I have learned that for me, it is not necessary to understand all the intricate details of what Multiple Myeloma brings to my table. Everyone involved is doing hers/his best in collaborating with me, trying to extend and maintain a quality of life to my liking. Knowing all the details, possibilities, probabilities, and outcomes of what lies ahead seems both unrealistic and exhausting. I am not sticking my head in the sand and pretending that what lies ahead is all balloons and bon-bons. It will not be. That is a lesson experience has taught me. I fully recognize and endorse placing value and importance on realism and thoughtfulness when it comes to cancer.

I recognize that adopting acceptance, minimizing expectations, and practicing patience (however hard that may be) provides me with a smoother sail. Often this “letting go” puts me in conflict with many of the messages we receive through the various endeavors we seek out in our lives outside of the cancer arena. Having control appears to be a big issue for those not dealing with cancer. Having control while living with or even in the presence of cancer is almost oxymoronic.

So, almost 18 months since we made a change to the drug protocol in response to a change in my blood numbers, and we are still searching for some level of consistency and stability.

As I see it, there are at least two major upsides to the situation. The first is that it has been 18 months and I am still kicking, still authoring articles, still playing golf, still married, still having relationship with those that I love. I still really like that I am alive.

The second major upside, well, that should be obvious. Everything that has happened before, all the joys, sorrows, failures, and triumphs have led me to where I am right now – which I guess is right where I am supposed to be.

Seems pretty simple and I like simple.

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