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  • Mark Pajak

Who Could Have Imagined.


Happy Holidays to all. May the blessings of the Season extend beyond the New Year for all who have taken the time to read this post.

I was uncertain what to write about this month. You see, sometimes I get sick of myself rambling on about Multiple Myeloma/Cancer. I guess this month is one of those times.

Thus, this post is a bit different than most. Yes, it is about my experience with MM however the focus that I would like to convey is more centered on the “others” who have accompanied me over these last almost eight years.

This all started with an unexpected diagnosis of cancer in January 2015. What followed was seven months of radiation and drug treatments in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. Following the transplant, I was on oral chemo protocols for about seven years until they became ineffective.

This past calendar year my blood numbers indicated the myeloma was beginning to “grow” and so I was switched to a treatment of chemo infusions which has been more physically difficult. Taking a daily pill is much easier than going to the hospital three Mondays in a row for two heavy doses of chemo infusions followed by 13 days of rest and then back to the infusions.

And now, here I am just about having completed my eighth year of living with cancer. Some of the biggest lessons learned during this time have been that there are no guarantees, I am not in control and that every single day is special (good special and bad special).

I imagine that all the above is routine if you are lucky enough to live with cancer. No real surprises and really, nothing too exceptional.

What has been exceptional, what has been surprising, what has been just unbelievable however has been the kindness extended to me from others during this journey.

Which gets me to my desire to say “thank you” or at least to acknowledge in a somewhat public manner those that have been with me during this journey and the tremendous gifts that I have received from them.

First off, I was and still am amazed at the “saints” who disguise themselves as nurses that happen to spend their days tending to people like me. They listen, they encourage, they provide support and comfort. They provide both physical and emotional assistance when needed. They are gentile yet firm in seeing that what happens when I am in their presence happens for my “good”. Amazing.

My oncologists (I have had two primary cancer doctors) have been terrific. I can be an ornery fellow especially when somewhat scared and uncertain. Both men have been so attentive to my needs. They have been caring and compassionate. They have been straight forward with their treatment ideas. They have been honest in our discussions about my disease and what comes next. I have been crazy lucky.

Friends and family have been just unbelievable. It started with community people bringing food to our house when I was first diagnosed. My wife and I were flabbergasted by such caring.

Phone calls, emails, and cards sent through something called “regular mail” from sisters, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law have been numerous and frequent. How very kind of them to take time out from their day(s) to touch base. Their concern and interest in helping are remarkable.

The value to me of the companionship from my golfing buddies can not be adequately described in this post and is one of the aspects of my life that has changed the least. They still call to see if I am available for a round of golf. We still kibitz, we still take a few mulligans, we still shoot in the low to mid-90’s (especially if the pencil has an eraser) and we all still tee it up on the first hole with thoughts of shooting a par round of golf. These guys have been golden.

Our two boys have been just great. They have really been excellent at keeping “things’ real. Their concern and their love have been very much appreciated. They have been wise enough to not let my cancer become “their” cancer.

Last but certainly not least has been the care and compassion of my wife. This cancer journey for us has been accomplished in tandem. I advance in my way; she advances in her way and together it works. No, she does not understand everything that I go through just as I do not understand everything that she goes through. However, over the years its seems that when needed the most she has been always available.

In total, having Multiple Myeloma has opened to me a world of kindness and caring that seems limitless. Hard to believe yet so very true.

Again, have a great Holidays, thanks for reading and please take some time to consider how very fortunate we all are to be sharing this planet together. Take good care.

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