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  • Writer's pictureMark Pajak

Work in Progress.

Woman continuing her daily routine of yoga

When I first started to write this column, I was uncertain as to what I should be writing about. However, as time passed, I came to understand that most people wrote in some manner or fashion about their own experiences. So, I followed that lead and began explaining through this column what living with Multiple Myeloma was like for me.

Yes, my life had changed but the basic trials and tribulations I faced with cancer were/are pretty similar to those encountered before cancer. Issues or concerns associated with finances, health, parenting, family, marital relationship, etc, etc, etc. seem universal and consistent no matter what the personal circumstances.

Of course, multiple myeloma presented me/is still presenting me with new, never imagined circumstances that require my attention. My life situation changed. No longer was I cancer free. If I want to/wanted to move forward, new routines and habits would have to be incorporated into the framework of my existing life for the situational changes that cancer brought on.

It took me a while to realize that having cancer did not mean that as a person I had to change. I was/am still the same “guy” I was before I was diagnosed. Yes, I was asked to make changes to my routines. Not once however was I asked to or was it required of me to change who I was or am.

I was never asked to change my beliefs or moral code. Never once was I asked to examine my ethics. Those issues were not addressed.

Decisions about the new routines I was to adopt were made within the context of who I was as a person. Looking at the new routines, I had to make decisions as to whether-or-not they “fit” who I was as I went about navigating living with Multiple Myeloma. This crucial self-examination I undertook was not ever mentioned/listed as part of my cancer treatment.

The undertaking of a self-examination under the new and constantly changing template for proceeding forward in life as a cancer patient was up to me. It was and still is my task to examine and decide on the treatment protocols that will accompany me as I move forward. And those decisions are primarily based upon how it all fits within the definition of who I am.

There was and still is a huge difference between the need for accepting the changes in my routines versus the need or desire to change who I was as I progress through the new routines.

Getting poked and prodded now is a part a new routine established when I was first diagnosed. Taking copious amounts of medication – just another routine change. The need for frequent hospital visits and the awareness of neutrophil levels and total proteins and the dreaded appearance of an M spike and other blood related measurements that prior to cancer I knew nothing about constitute yet another form of a routine change.

Yet the underling basis for all my actions and concerns with these new routines and how I try to manage, work with and thrive living with these new routines is and always will be predicated upon who I am. And that is a pretty important statement.

In examining myself before my diagnosis I can write that I had a relatively positive attitude. I believe that I still do post diagnosis. I have always had a solid work ethic. Same post diagnosis. My core values regarding the emphasis placed on a spiritual life and values such as kindness, compassion and gratitude did not substantially change because of multiple myeloma. What did change however was the desire for a more frequent expression of those values in my daily life.

I still worry. My short temper can rear its ugly head. Patience has always been something requiring effort. The shortcomings I possess are still with me and just as evident as they were before diagnosis.

You get the picture. I/We are who we are. Having multiple myeloma, does not REQUIRE any change in who I am.

The possibility of a change(s) in who I am, or who I want to be is a choice that comes from me. It has and always will be my choice. Having cancer/multiple myeloma provided/still provides me with an excellent opportunity to evaluate and decide who I am and what I will emphasize in living with cancer.

Sounds easy. But, alas, it is a work in progress. I am so grateful for having the time to act on this opportunity to get some of this work done. It has been a blessing. And thank goodness it is my choice to make.


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