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A Roller Coaster Called Cancer

When I was kid, I liked roller coasters. I wasn’t a roller coaster nut but I was a fan. What I didn’t like were the rides that spun you upside down or in circles real fast. Often I’d think I was brave enough for a ride, I’d get on it and soon I’d be screaming for them to stop the ride. It was absolutely horrible.  As I got older, I still liked roller coasters, but at some point, my stomach started to disagree and I had to face the music that they weren’t for me.

As I roll into my 8th year with myeloma, this cancer journey has been a heck of a roller coaster ride, both physically and mentally.  I recently shared that I was battling intense anger. It’s much better now thanks to self-talk and going back onto anti-depressants that one of my doctors suggested I get off of. I told my main oncologist about the anger and he correctly suggested I deal with it.  The anger is still there but it’s much less and I’m trying to channel the energy towards more positive things.

Wanting to get off this myeloma ride

I’ve come to understand that the anger was and is me screaming to get off the ride. In this case, the ride is cancer. I was feeling particularly done with the cancer. Done with never ending doctor appointments, calls to insurance, lab tests, bills, physical worries. Add to this, I’m turning 58 this year and I hadn’t seen a primary care doctor since before being diagnosed. I decided I should get a complete physical to see if nearly a decade of putting toxins into my body was damaging my organs and general health. I’d also been dealing with my at times frightening head and neck twitches. It took FOREVER to get an MRI done. The results are in and I’m in decent health (putting aside the cancer). So that’s all good.

But the fact remains, I have an incurable cancer.  I can’t just say I want off the ride and instead go to a booth that sells large turkey drumsticks and frozen lemonade.

Starting a new cycle

As I write this, it’s day 1 of a new cycle. I had my 5-hour Darzalex infusion earlier today. It starts off fine. I get a large dose of Benadryl and doze off into a pleasant loopy land. I wake up, have a snack, write loopy emails to friends and family, watch a movie and cruise to the 4-hour point. The last hour though, the steroids kick in and I get antsy and bored and ready to get the heck out of there. It’s like a roller coaster within a roller coaster if that makes sense. I also take an oral chemo at night for the next 21 days. Then I get a week-long break. Then it all repeats again. The great news is that this regime that I’ve been on for over two years is still working great. So I tolerate it.

And don’t get me wrong, I feel very fortunate and grateful to be where I am, especially given where I started and some of the scares I’ve had.  March was Myeloma Awareness Month. My wife ordered us myeloma warrior sweatshirts from the International Myeloma Foundation.  Up to now, I’ve been a little hesitant to wear something that highlighted I’m a cancer patient. Why? I don’t know. But I think I’m ready. I need to get on the ride.

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

  • Deb Wesloh moderator
    5 months ago

    What a perfect analogy for dealing with cancer! It is one big rollercoaster ride, isn’t it? I’m glad your cancer is being managed well with your current treatment but I sense that you, like many others including me, are weary of dealing with cancer and treatment that overtakes your life.
    I’m in my third year since I was diagnosed with my cancers and I feel like I am constantly on a rollercoaster of both highs and lows. I, unlike you, am not a fan of rollercoasters, merry-go-rounds were more my speed. How I would love to get off this rollercoaster and get on a nice relaxing merry-go-round instead…Best wishes to you!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    5 months ago

    Yep – roller coasters are not much fun!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    5 months ago

    Cancer can definitely be compared to a roller coaster ride. So many things going on at once and so many emotions. I decided about a year ago that I was going to treat my cancer as if it were a chronic disease. It’s something I have to live with too, but I choose to put it on the back burner until test time – then I let fate dictate what’s next. One of my favorite sayings is – fix it or live with it. So far I haven’t been able to fix it, so live with it I will. Good luck to you. I hope your protocol works for you for a good long time.

  • Carole McCue
    5 months ago

    Matt,
    Wear that shirt you are a warrior. Sending you healing thoughts.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    5 months ago

    I agree! Wear the sweatshirt loud and proud!

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