Aging with Blood Cancer: You're Going to Miss Us!

"OK, boomer!" is a dismissive retort, often disregarding or mocking baby boomers. Fellow baby boomers, do you remember how we would roll our eyes when our parents talked about how rough they had it as children growing up during the 1930s Great Depression? What goes around comes around!

Each generation has has its challenges

Each generation has its challenges. I am glad I have always lived in a house with indoor plumbing; using an outdoor bathroom sounds terrible.

I am also glad I went through Junior High School long before cyberbullying. In the 1970s, you went home to avoid the mean girls. If they called your residence on the landline phone, they hung up when your dad answered. Nowadays, they can text and post insults around the clock. They won't be proud of those actions when they reflect on their life.

Was it a simpler time?

"You grew up in a simpler time," a young person said. There didn't seem to be anything simple about it. In first grade, we did "duck and cover" drills during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I didn't know to be scared; I thought it was what first graders did. Maybe I'd get an "A" on my report card if I were fast enough.

There was nothing simple about watching the News with Walter Cronkite in the 1960s and seeing the number of soldiers killed in Vietnam that week.

Those born in the mid-1950s saw three assassinations before we were teenagers: President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. There was nothing simple about processing the violent behavior.

My Sunday School teacher in 1969 told us that Jesus would return soon. "All this violent behavior is a sign that the end is coming," she insisted. One thirteen-year-old girl became upset, saying, "Oh, no! I wanted to grow up and have a family of my own!" But, according to the gospel of Matthew, only God knows when Jesus is coming back. Besides, we are not on the planning committee. We're on the welcoming committee!

Along comes MDS

I was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) in 2017 at 61. MDS is a rare form of blood cancer caused by bone marrow failure.

I thought, What did I do wrong? Did I drink too many Dr. Peppers, or maybe I didn't eat enough broccoli?

Unfortunately, the risk of MDS increases with age. It is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 70s.1 So that sneaky blood cancer gets us as we age!

Growing old is a blessing, with side effects

Many baby boomers are now grandparents and even great-grandparents. Here's how I look at it: Growing old is a blessing. The Cold War is over. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" President Reagan said. Jesus wasn't ready for us yet, so we are still here. Blood cancer or not, I am still here.

Recently, I was at a party with some of my high school classmates. One man asked, "How many of you still have your parents?" Only a few hands went up. We would like to hear more stories about the Great Depression again. This time, we wouldn't roll our eyes.

Most likely, the majority of baby boomers will be gone in 2064. No more "OK, boomer!" You're going to miss us. How do I know? Because we miss our parents.

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