- Be the property of, to be owned by. “That IV stand does not belong to her”
- Be a member or part of (a particular group). “I belong to the stem cell transplant club”
Synonyms: affiliation, acceptance, fellowship
Tribes of choice
Some of us won’t admit it, but in reality, we spend a large time of our lives developing an outer image of who we are and what groups or tribes we “belong” to (definition 2). These tribes can be associated with many things including religion, political affiliation, social groups, team affiliation, education, and health, (marathoner vs McDonald's drive through champion). In fact, many of us continue through to the end of our lives developing that image, or at least trying to.
No matter what group you “belong” to, being diagnosed with a blood cancer can brutally change how you see yourself, and your perception of how other people see you. You can really start questioning if you “belong” anywhere, and if you do, where that may be. In my case, I now know one of the tribes I “belong” to is the “Disabled Tribe”, with blue parking placard and all. Fortunately, I did pleasantly discover that this placard is the unofficial parking pass for the townhome community where I live. It does have many lovely neighbors much older than I. Membership in this particular tribe can have other benefits though, which include constant waves from neighbors, to not having to walk in the rain at the grocery store or post office.
Searching for where I belong
Finding if, and where I fit is probably one of the toughest battles that I have fought, and continue to fight. For 30 plus years I’d been a runner, gym rat, thrill seeker, traveler, workaholic, small business owner and executive, someone who liked a good party, and a live to be a healthy 90-year-old kind of guy. I had worked hard to “belong” in those groups and was happy being there. Then July 2018 happened...I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma
By the time I was fully diagnosed, I already had seven collapsed vertebrae and 2 multiple kyphoplasty operations. I had started my journey of constant, extreme pain, and now was facing all the other wonderful things most of us with a blood cancer experience. This all happened in a six-week period. BAM!! As many of you can relate to, all of a sudden, many things I spent a large part of my life working to “belong” to, didn’t exactly disappear, but just didn’t apply anymore. It was a very lonely and emotional time. I was forced to question where I now fit.
Where I always belonged
I am not sure how or when I had my “aha” moment, but I started leaning on my spirituality fairly early on. It had always been a pretty big part of my make-up. Of course, a life crisis required a little more leaning. That’s always been my go-to place. As my contemplation increased, I started seeing more clearly where I still did “belong”. I realize now how important these places are. I started to understand their ultimate healing nature, as well as my relevancy with them.
First and foremost, I rediscovered my most important “belonging”, was with God and His/Her creation. I always had and always will. I “belonged” there no matter who I was, what I did, and could or couldn’t be. I was whole in God’s eyes no matter what. I also became much more aware of the earthly family I “belong” with, overflowing with the love and support I only could have imagined to that point. This included my immediate family, other relatives, friends, coworkers, customers, my health team, and many others.
I also discovered that I can still “belong” in my other pre-MM cherished places. In those cases though, I will need to change my role to support and advocacy, which is a very important contribution I am just now discovering.
The bottom line, and one thing to never forget, is no matter where you are in your battle, you “BELONG”. You always did and you always will.
How long did it take to be properly diagnosed?