a collage of images and objects depicting fundraising, keys, puzzle pieces, notes, a wedding, and Mt. Kilimanjaro

The Decade That Was

Last updated: January 2020

I’ve always loved end of year lists. I can’t get enough of them. I’ll buy magazines and watch a bunch of end of year shows. When we went from 1999 to 2000, it was almost overwhelming with all the end of century lists. Add to that, the concern that Y2K was going to disable all of our computers, I huddled up under a warm blanket for New Year’s Eve 1999.

My end of the decade multiple myeloma list

As we transition from 2019 to 2020, I’ve noticed a new phenomenon; the end of the decade lists. I don’t remember these ever before. But I guess with the speed of changes and the flow of information, an end of decade list might make sense. And when I stop to think about it, I realize that I might have missed a whole lot this decade. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in early 2011. I’d been feeling sick for a few months before then. And in 2010, I had surgery, unrelated to myeloma, that represented the start of my decade of medical adventures.

New treatments for multiple myeloma

The first couple of years after my diagnosis were uncertain and scary. So I wasn’t paying close attention to the world around me. In fact, and in all honesty, I don’t think it was until 2016, when I started an immunotherapy, that I could pay attention to things both important and trivial. I finally felt comfortable and healthy and able to enjoy things that I used to enjoy B.D., before diagnosis. This highlights perhaps the biggest change this decade and that’s the fortunate development of many new therapies for multiple myeloma. In 2011, there weren’t that many choices for treatment. Now, nearly ten years later, myeloma patients have a number of options. For me, the development of immunotherapy has been life-changing, both figuratively and literally. Life expectancy has increased for myeloma patients. In the coming decade, hopefully, we’ll see CAR T therapy as a much more viable option for myeloma patients.

Marriage, Mt Kilimanjaro, and more

For me personally, there’s been some big highlights in my life this decade. I got married. I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. I’ve raised money for myeloma and blood cancer research. I retired from work. I’ve met some amazing fellow patients and made wonderful new friends. I’ve changed quite a bit. I appreciate things like never before. Incurable cancer will do that to a person.

Cognitive and physical challenges

Getting back to what I’ve missed, 8 plus years of treatment has definitely impacted my cognitive capabilities. I know I forget things now. My wife reminds me of things we did, that I don’t remember.  I lose things now. Keys, a Kindle, my water bottle. To combat this, I’ve started reading more and doing crossword puzzles to keep my brain strong. Mind and body go together. Although, my body is struggling of late. I’m definitely getting serious about fitness in the coming decade. I want and need to be the fittest cancer patient I can be.

Loooking forward to the next 10 years

But for now, I’m going to make a trip to an actual, real life bookstore to buy some end of year and end of decade magazines. I’m looking forward to getting caught up on things. And I’m looking forward to the next ten years. I have a sense of optimism that I couldn’t have imagined when I was diagnosed in 2011. Happy New Year and Happy New Decade everyone.

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