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  • Writer's pictureMark Pajak

Why? Because.

I want to let you know that I so appreciate, respect, and empathize with your struggles, your worries, your good days and your not so good days. When living with Multiple Myeloma/cancer, it is my belief that in the end we are all trying to do our absolute best however that is defined.

Ultimately, each of us must produce a system or a routine that allows us to move forward and withstand the many different challenges and hurdles that we encounter each day.

For me, I have come to understand there is no one right way or wrong way to go about this business of living with cancer. There are many ways to survive. And if we are upright and looking down at the green grass, there will be questions and uncertainties that are to be faced.

Of course, there are also many lessons to be learned as we travel. And one of the most powerful and important lessons that I have learned is that it does me absolutely no good to focus on the “why” questions or questions that are focused on that which has already passed.

Often, the possible answers to my “why” questions or questions about the past leave me empty and without much comfort. I have concluded that focusing on answers to the “why” questions is of little value.

Life is what it is.

The very first “why’ question I encountered was “Why did I get this cancer?” Or maybe I just asked the question this way “Why me?”

I quickly found out that the reason ‘why I got cancer” was immaterial to the treatment that was being developed to manage and contain my cancer. Knowing what was coming next and then developing tools to help me adjust to possible protocols seemed and still seem more important and beneficial than knowing what had happened that put me in the position I found myself in. Answers/Information dealing with what the next six weeks/months were going to look like were critical in helping me understand this disease and how we were going to manage the situation. Accepting my predicament and then working to adjust and thrive seemed especially important then and now eight plus years later.

OK, so where does this all lead? Well for me what it led/leads to is the understanding that it is an exceptionally good idea to appreciate life for what it is, for how it is and for my ability to be a part of life given the existing circumstance right now – in the present moment no matter how difficult that may be.

I realized that I had to relinquish the idea of being totally in control. This idea of wanting or demanding control was the root cause to wanting “why” answers and quite frankly the root cause of many of my worries and concerns. I had to learn or at least try to learn to “go with the flow” which for me is/has not been an easy task. I also had to resist the temptation to seek blame or to find a scapegoat that could bear the load of my ill-will. Even now, I still must work at all of that as well as not allowing myself to get angry or mad because I have cancer.

Of course, all the above however must be taken within a proper context:

There are some legitimate “why” questions that can be debated. For instances, usually when I am on the first tee box playing golf with my son I say something like “Maybe today I will shoot par golf (I am a 20 plus handicap who has a difficult time breaking 90)” ; No sooner are the words out of my mouth when he will look at me and asks “why do you say that; you know that you are not going to shot par”. I suppose that is a legitimate “why” question.

Or how about two summers ago I tried to climb a 14er in Colorado (climb to the top of a 14,000 ft mountain) with my other son. I did not make it; I made it to about 12,500 but no higher. I was gassed. I suspect the donut and chocolate milk power breakfast I had that morning was the culprit. This past week, I was at his house, and I said to him “well, what do you think about another try at a 14er?” And his response was “why would you even think that would be a good idea?” Again, another legitimate “why” question.

So, I suppose a “why” question does have a place in my life but maybe not so much regarding me living with/trying to deal with managing MM/cancer.

“Cancer Treatment” unto itself is an angst producing phrase. Thoughts and actions that I can implement into my daily routines that provide some distance from angst and anguish I see as being precious gemstones that are there to be picked up and used.

Cancer – yuk. Cancer/Multiple Myeloma, oncologists, FNP’s, nurses, caregivers, hospitals, drug protocols, pills, pills, and more pills is what life looks like. It is the hand that I/we have been dealt. Why? Well, does it matter? We play the hand the best that we can and move forward.


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