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Attitude of Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude

When I was first diagnosed, I was hit with a whole range of emotions.  Like a giant wave, I was taken over by anger, depression, fear, shock and even relief. I’d been sick and getting progressively worse for three months leading up to my diagnosis and it was actually a relief to finally know what was wrong with me. But anger, depression and fear were the main unchecked emotions that I was feeling. My response at the time was not to reach out to others. Instead, I went the other direction and didn’t want to talk to anyone.  I left it to my wife to update my family and friends.  That’s no easy task.  I started my blog so I wouldn’t have to interact with anyone.  We directed friends and family to my blog if they wanted an update.

When you don’t want to talk to anyone

I know that the cancer battle can be a team effort. But I’ve always been more of a go it alone type of person. My diagnosis intensified this. I would occasionally go online to find stories of other people’s experience with myeloma. But I did not want to directly speak to or hear from other patients.  And if someone reached out to me, I definitely wasn’t receptive.  In the first year after diagnosis and as we struggled to find a treatment that would work for me, I increasingly envisioned a scenario where I’d eventually take a trip out to the middle of nowhere, not tell anyone where I was going, and all alone I’d let myself succumb to the disease.

Fast forward to over seven years later. As I write this, it is the day after Thanksgiving. My family is spread out across the country, so we spent the day with friends. And I can now say how grateful I am to have made friends with fellow patients. I’ve met some amazing and impactful people. I’d probably never have met these folks if I hadn’t been diagnosed with myeloma in May 2011.  I always have to add a caveat that I’d prefer not to have cancer. But truly the support and sense of community I get from fellow myeloma patients and fellow survivors cannot be beat.  There is a mental aspect to fighting cancer and living with an incurable disease that can be more challenging than the physical aspect. Understanding and empathizing with these challenges I think can best come from someone who is experiencing the same thing as you.

Finding community

This community can be in the form of support groups, online forums, following someone’s story, volunteering with a cancer organization or taking part in a cancer related walk or run or event.  Seven years ago, I absolutely never thought I’d appreciate having other patients in my corner and making myself available to other patients.  Being #grateful can be overused, but in this case, I am sincerely grateful for the people I have met and the friends I have made.

I’m also grateful that I no longer cringe at the idea of sharing my feelings with people or asking for help or reaching out for support.  I’m grateful that I’ve exceeded my expectations of how long I’d live this disease and that I’ve been able to resume somewhat normal activities.  I still have to be diligent about my health and I still fight the desire to live anonymously.  It’s a balancing act.

And although I am better about communicating with people, I still find it easier to share my thoughts or updates via writing. Writing is cathartic for me. It’s a way of venting and releasing pent up concerns. And thanks to writing, I’ve gotten to know fellow patients and gotten more involved in the cancer community.  It’s not something that would ever have been on my bucket list, but I’m glad that this journey has changed me and made me a more open person.

Saying thank you

We all deal with our disease differently. There’s no right or wrong way. But I always tell people that the best source of support is from fellow patients and survivors.

I’ll close by saying thanks to everyone and anyone who is in this community.  We’re all in this together.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Deb Wesloh moderator
    3 weeks ago

    We are all in this together! The ones that can truly relate to what you’re going through are the ones that have gone through or are currently going through. Like you, I didn’t reach out to others, particularly other cancer patients until long after diagnosis. However, once I did, through forums, conferences etc. I found a community that not only can relate but can provide good advice on how to manage what you’re going through. I now have a number of “cancer” friends that I’m very close to. Their support means the world to me. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Amazing when you think your in this alone, there’s a squad of people who can relate immensely to those sentiments within this community.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    7 months ago

    You are right. No one knows better than us what we are going through. It is hard to share, but sometimes that’s the best thing to do. How are you doing mow?

  • Matt Goldman author
    7 months ago

    I’m doing really well currently. Been on an immunotherapy for 2.5 years and best thing I’ve been on in 8 years

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    7 months ago

    That is great news Matt!

  • bluchs
    11 months ago

    Matt thank You for your thoughts.
    I can relate to some of your experiences?
    I also was very sick for about 3 months before, I went to the hospital, and then I only went because I felt like I was going to die, and I almost did ( I actually collapsed at the entrance of the emergency room)
    I woke up with an IV and a nurse by my side.
    It was about 1 hour later, when I was told I had stage 4 Cancer.
    I actually, never even considered it was Cancer, not once?
    But, I too was relieved to know what was actually wrong with me!
    I did experience the fear and anger as well, I actually thought, I could continue to work, while fighting cancer.
    I did not tell anyone that I had cancer until, I could not function any more?
    I am still fighting.
    I am still very scared of dying.
    But I do reach out to others now, for help and support, especially for Prayer.
    I to have found this forum to be a wonderful outlet for support from others afflicted with blood cancer, including caregivers.
    It does help to write down our thoughts, and read the thoughts of others.
    I actually even write in a journal to myself, which is very helpful.
    Your are right, there is no right or wrong way to deal with this.
    But to share our stories is very empowering.
    We are, all in this together!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi Matt,
    Yes, there’s no rule book- we’re all not going to want to be jolly and talk about it. I love that you started a blog for people to read about your experience, rather having a lengthy conversation. As I mentioned to many I’ve met and written in my book, many don’t realize what I’ve experienced. You may want to include your family and friends, but some of them may just not get it and the significance of the disease. I totally agree it is a strong balancing act, but as long as we cope as we feel we need to, we do what we have to do. I wish you a healthy New Year- positive vibes and energy your way my friend!

  • CindyC moderator
    11 months ago

    Matt, Thank you for being so willing to share your experiences. I am so glad I know you as a myeloma patient and more importantly as a friend. I agree with you, although I would prefer not to have myeloma, I am grateful to the wonderful community of myeloma patients and caregivers that I consider my IRL and virtual friends. They provide me with great support and help me greatly when I need them. I try to end each day by writing down 5 things I am grateful for. A myeloma related thing is always mentioned on that list.

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