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Throwing Caution to the Wind

One of the challenges for a multiple myeloma patient (or any blood cancer for that matter) is the giant question mark that hangs over our head. For myeloma patients, we have an incurable cancer. Folks are working hard to find a cure. Some people say myeloma is becoming chronic disease.  Absolutely the median survival rate is extending as newer and more effective treatments are brought on line. But it remains incurable.

Balancing responsibilities with living life

So as we live longer with our blood cancer, we must ensure we take care of our health, maintain our insurance, pay our bills, and keep healthy relationships. There are the obvious physical challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis.  But our cancer changes us emotionally and how we view our position in the world and our future. There is the new normal that we all talk about. And in the midst of the physical and emotional challenges, there is the desire to live life to the fullest. To check things off our bucket list. To throw caution to the wind.  There are times that we just want to go crazy if you will. For some it means jumping out of a plane or quitting our job or exploring the world. For others it might mean speaking our mind or having that extra plate of nachos or singing our favorite song on karaoke.  Throwing caution to the wind is different for everyone.

But my experience is that you want to not have regrets. You want to leave no stone unturned. I know I’m throwing out a bunch of clichés. But this is something I’ve been trying to wrap my head around lately.  It seems like there are always doctors appointments or infusions or pills to take or labs to do. There are responsibilities. So it’s a challenge to balance these responsibilities with wanting to do whatever the heck we want.  And then there are the times when we aren’t feeling well or our energy is low. I’m an all or nothing person, but I’m working on baby steps and gray areas and smaller victories. I need to prioritize the items on my list and do what I can do while also taking a nap when I need a nap.

How do you throw caution to the wind?

I’m curious how others see themselves throwing caution to the wind. What are folks doing that perhaps they wouldn’t have done before cancer?  I will say this, it’s important to share our thoughts and experiences. The blood cancer community or for me the myeloma community is powerful and helpful and provides support. Another cliché: we are all in this together.

And to close out this all over the place post… As I write this, I’m visiting family in Lake Tahoe. It’s beautiful here. The mountains and trees are healing. We’re taking a hike in a little while to see a waterfall. I’m ready to tell my wife to throw out all our stuff, jump in the car with our dog and we’re moving here. And then on the other hand, I know there is a casino downstairs and I wonder if I should just cash in everything I own and put it on number 32 on the roulette. Obviously, I know that would be crazy and irresponsible. But…

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


  • ocean
    3 days ago

    I have reached a point in my life after ALL that if the insurance doesn’t cover it I don’t do it it’s a shame that it has come to this but I am so tired of shelling out money for medical bills I have had I know that this sounds extreme but hey I want to live life and keep what I have and that’s it the financial impact of cancer is horrible on the average worker financially and it’s a shame it’s like this it really is so now that I threw caution to the wind I feel better I really do

    1 week ago

    Cancer forces us to make decisions about how to spend our remaining time. Without it we tend to live as if there is no death and don’t make choices we should be making. Of course not making a choice is actually making the choice not to change. I was compelled to retire at the height of my career, but I had spent 33 years at it, and it constrained me in a number of ways. I have been able to consider the world from a slower boat and by doing so to observe it and myself with more clarity. I have written a lot (poetry, essays), and my writing is improved by keener observations and more precise word choices. Some friends have fallen away, but many relationships are stronger because we know time is finite and act accordingly.

    We have the ability to do wild bucket list types of things (during periods of good health that come and go), but find little pull to do much out of the ordinary, which has taken in more meaning.

  • Susan Gonsalves moderator
    2 weeks ago

    @mattg Great piece. Incurable cancer (CML) changes your life in so many ways. Financial constraints mean working more than ever (luckily a lot of my work is remote). However, I do try to incorporate fun things into my life–because, hey, life is short. It’s all about balance.

  • Carolyn B
    9 months ago

    I think the take advantage of the moment only works if you have enough money. I have to live as if I don’t have cancer that will likely kill me sooner than “my time” as the financial toxicity of an incurable blood cancer does not allow me to do anything “extra” that costs money.

    I have no money to go on vacation (and haven’t since 2006), to do anything other than work and then have the limits any working stiff has adding in the extra bonus of chronic fatigue.

    I have to keep my MD Anderson bills current enough that they will still see me (I currently owe them about $4000 or so more than I have) and that means I have to put any “extra” money towards that. I need to save for the future because I don’t know how long that future will be. Most of my relatives on both sides of the family live into their 90’s and several into their 100’s. If I live that long with this I certainly don’t want to be living in the level of poverty I’d be living in if I spent any money now on wants rather than needs.

    Had I not gotten this cancer (and two other major cancers too) I would be living a different life. The ocean is about 120 miles away. I don’t have the discretionary funds to pay for gas and a camping site. I think perhaps those who are in a different financial place are the ones who have the “luxury” of doing things in that would fall under living life to the fullest, living in the moment. I even have to plan for the gas money to see family.

    Poverty and cancer removes a lot of choices that having money and cancer allows you (I have been in both situations as I have been dealing with various cancers since 2003). Nothing I can do about it because if I don’t work I’ll be on the streets with no income. If I don’t work and save I’ll be on the streets when I am much older and possibly dying of this. I have to balance the stress of living on the streets vs the enjoyment a vacation now will give me. Sorry. I have lived in a shed before. Don’t want a redo. Especially a redo when I am older and possibly sicker.

    Those of you who have enough money to do things, to have experiences that cost money, enjoy yourselves because I am sure it is an emotionally valuable thing to do and if you can do it, then by all means to. To the rest of us – don’t feel guilty because you can’t do that. It is what it is as much as I/we’d like it to be different. Cancer sucks.

  • Carole McCue
    1 year ago

    Hi Matt,
    You are so right. After my cancer diagnosis, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, I vowed never to miss an opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter. Someone once told me that, “You only regret the things that you don’t do”. So very true. I hope you stay well as our blood cancers are becoming chronic and I pray for a cure. God bless you.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 year ago

    Great piece Matt,
    I feel when we’re faced with this adversity, that’s an indication that maybe we need to delve in further on our true purpose. As for myself, my diagnosis has allowed me to think of another career that I love while being mindful of embracing a healthy lifestyle. If I want to do something now is the time to do it, as tomorrow is not promised, and at times I think we all need a little reminding of that. We must remember to live the very best of ourselves with little to no regrets.

  • Matt Goldman author
    1 year ago

    Thanks Yolanda. I agree we all do need a little reminder. I know I do and your comment has helped me on that path.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 year ago

    Wonderful Matt!

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