Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
An image split in half with a man yelling on one side and a tiger roaring on the other

The Roar Is Back

In late 2009, I was trimming some trees in my backyard. A small branch fell over the wall into my neighbor’s yard.  I jumped over the wall to get the branch. I landed awkwardly and felt something odd in my right foot. But I was used to it, a childhood injury to the foot occasionally flared up and caused me a day or two of minor pain. So I didn’t think anything of the twinge I felt, and I kept trimming the trees.

Foot injury meets pop culture

The next day, however, my right foot had swollen up to twice the normal size and the pain was overwhelming. I couldn’t put any weight on the foot. The next day it was no better, so I decided I better see a foot doctor. In late November, as I pulled into the parking lot at the doctor’s office, I was listening to the news about Tiger Woods being in a minor car accident.

An hour and half later, I was back in my car and the details of Tiger’s accident were known. And I was dealing with the news that I’d need foot surgery. I was 48 at the time and a total stranger to doctors, hospitals and all that stuff that goes with it.

A life-changing myeloma diagnosis

In early 2010, I had my foot surgery and everything seemed great. My foot felt better than ever.  Little did I know that a year later, I’d have a life-changing diagnosis that made me all too familiar with doctors, hospitals and all that stuff. I’m not saying that the foot surgery had anything to do with my multiple myeloma diagnosis. But in my mind, the foot surgery certainly sent me on a medical odyssey that I never could have imagined. In March 2011, I started to feel fatigued, weak and was having nightly cold sweats.  Two months later, I was diagnosed.

My 8 year cancerversary and a new normal

Fast forward to the present. I’m about to hit 8 years since my diagnosis. I do a monthly infusion and take a low dose oral chemo that keeps my myeloma stable and under control. The goal is to have this regimen work for a long time. Recently the same right foot began to ache again. Given my illness I am now acutely aware of taking care of my bones. While the myeloma hasn’t impacted my bones, the steroids I take have given me osteoporosis. So I went back to the same foot doctor. I hadn’t seen him since 2010 and I had to get him caught him up on medical history since I last saw him. That took a while.  Fortunately this time surgery wasn’t needed. Custom orthotics seems to be doing the trick.

But what was interesting is that pulling in to the parking lot brought me right back to listening to the Tiger Woods story and it kind of represented an end of innocence . I think we all do that thing, where we closely associate two things that normally wouldn’t have anything in common.

Finding my roar

The other day I was watching the Master golf tournament. I don’t golf but I am a sports fan and do enjoy watching Tiger play. Well, Tiger won this tournament. It marked the high point in his comeback. That incident in 2009 sent him on a journey totally unexpected. But he had made it back to the top of the game. His roar was back.

I’m days away from my 8 year anniversary from diagnosis. I just returned from a road trip with my nephew and my dog. We were on the road for 9 days. It was awesome and rarely did I think of my myeloma. I was feeling good and free, which was my goal. And it has motivated me to live life and enjoy life while I can. As I pass the 8 year mark, my roar is back.

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

  • Mike Padjen
    3 months ago

    Matt, we all love a comeback. Congratulations! I’m currently on my coming out road trip and keeping my fingers crossed. The first 2 “training” ones I tried each ended up in a case of pneumonia and 5 days in the hospital. I’m on day 9 of 15 days with fingers crossed. I’m hoping for a comeback too, but the way I’m looking at it now, I’m in the second of the last group teeing off, 3 strokes out of the lead, and wearing a red shirt and back brace. Your story is inspiring! Thanks!

  • Mike Padjen
    3 months ago

    And it’s Sunday 😊

  • Ann Harper moderator
    7 months ago

    Good for you. Sometimes we have to wrap our minds around a situation before we can deal with it and move on. You have done that. Happy Anniversary and Congratulations! 8 years is on the way to my 10 year goal of living with cancer. This year is my 5 year mark. Keep roaring!!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    7 months ago

    Matt, so happy your roar is back. Best!

  • Racheli Alkobey moderator
    7 months ago

    Wow. I love this analogy (mostly because I <3 Lion King). It's so important to acknowledge that time span that we DONT think about cancer, you know? I'm finding my roar too! I am very inspired by you, Matt!

  • Poll