Another Year in the Books

May 2nd marks nine years since my multiple myeloma diagnosis. I was 49 years old at the time of my diagnosis and was actually looking forward to my 50th birthday. I was healthy, felt great, and had no qualms about hitting the half-century milestone. I started feeling ill and felt progressively horrible in early 2011. It took a few months of feeling ill until I got the diagnosis. These past nine years and my 50s have been an absolute blur. Next year, May 2, 2021, will be ten years since my diagnosis and my 60th birthday.

My cancerversary traditions

Every year on my cancerversary I do something to celebrate making it another year. My expectations have changed each year that goes by. The first several months after my diagnosis, I was just aiming to make it to 2012. When I hit that mark, I wanted another two years. When I hit two years, I wanted five years. Five years sounded spectacular to me. For the past 3 and half years though, I’ve been on immunotherapy and it’s been a total game-changer. I feel better than I’ve felt since before I was diagnosed. Side effects are minimal. I recognize that I’m darn lucky. On top of that, I’ve met amazing and inspirational fellow patients, who I am lucky to call friends.

Last year, eight years, we went bowling with some friends to celebrate another year alive and feeling good. This year, because of the pending milestone in 2021, I’ve been thinking I’d ignore my nine-year mark. I figured I would just let it pass by. Sure, I might toast my wife, who’s done an incredible job as my caregiver and partner. I know my mom will call me to say congratulations. I’m the baby and most likely her favorite, so she can’t let it pass by. I spoke with her yesterday and she is already excited about me hitting the nine-year mark.

On my blog, I typically mark anniversary dates with a photo of a Minnesota Vikings player who wore that number. For this anniversary, I was even planning to skip my Vikings shout out. And frankly, I am more than a little frustrated with the Vikings. My 58-year connection to the team has been strained by recent team personnel moves. But come on, I can’t really skip the number ceremony. So, I’d like to give a shout out to Tommy Kramer a quarterback who wore number 9 for the Vikings from 1977 to 1989. I was a big fan and he almost got them to the Super Bowl. But who didn’t almost get them to the Super Bowl? Surprising only 3 other people in the history of the team have worn number 9. McMahon, Sisson, and Bollinger.

I wish I knew then what I know now

But really, what else can I say about this anniversary? I’m happy to be alive and thriving. Cancer has been an absolute life-changer. An understatement. It’s been good and bad. Lots of good, but also lots of bad. There is a saying that goes something like “I wish I knew then what I know now” and that's so true. My appreciation of life and understanding what is important to me has really been turned upside since my diagnosis. For the better. It’s not surprising my perspective has changed when you consider that I’ve now had myeloma for roughly 15% of my life. That is nuts.

But here I am and here we are. I’m going to keep this roll going as long as possible.

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