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Stain glass windows with a handicapped symbol in one and blood droplets in the other two

Belonging

Belong

  1. Be the property of, to be owned by. “That IV stand does not belong to her”
  2. 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 on 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.

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

Comments

  • BZaccardi
    5 months ago

    It’s amazing to me how very insightful you are going through this experience. And, the things you learn about yourself in such a short period of time. Love to you and Sue ♡

  • Dan122
    5 months ago

    nice words. I can’t understand how could one pass through all of that without being firmly attached to God.

  • Carole McCue
    5 months ago

    Mike,
    Thank you for these inspiring words. I too found comfort in embracing spriritiality.
    God bless you

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    5 months ago

    Mike, thank you many people chime into their faith in these times and even more strongly. Keep learning and discovering! Best!

  • Mike Padjen author
    5 months ago

    I love the art work!

  • Anthony Carrone moderator
    5 months ago

    So do I, MIke. I’ll be sure to pass that along to the artist, too!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    5 months ago

    @anthony-carrone -I couldn’t agree with Mike more, which I’ve mentioned this a couple of times.
    🙂 Our artists rock!!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    5 months ago

    This is a great post and so inspiring. After any change we have to reevaluate our lives to see where we belong. Sometimes the old us needs a change and sometimes we’re forced to make that change. Having religion is important because we always belong. Good luck to you as you move forward.

  • Mike Padjen author
    5 months ago

    Thank you Ann!

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