Recently, I changed doctors. The Hood River community does not have an oncology practice. Consequently, they contract with established physicians from Portland, OR. Dr. A is our new visiting hematologist. She attends to all local patients with cancer and, when necessary, manages their chemotherapy in our hospital’s small infusion ward. Fortunately for me, her training specialized in multiple myeloma.
We have met three times since she took over in December. In January, I underwent a skeletal survey. We found no evidence of bone lesions or soft tissue tumors. My blood labs showed no surprises. As I departed from my last appointment, she laughed when I commented on being a boring patient. “Yes,” she said, “and that is a good thing.”
Her philosophy mimics my previous oncologist, Dr. M. They both believe that “less is more.” I continue to occupy what I’ve come to characterize as the black and white phase of my disease journey. My diagnosis, early chemo treatments and stem cell transplant were the colorful episodes of my cancer saga. Now, the monotony of my MM is as dull as TV reruns from the 1950s.
Over the holidays while visiting family in Las Vegas, the ritual of sharing what is new in our lives occurred frequently. At one point, as I discussed my health, I blurted out, “I feel a little guilty I’m not dead.”
By that, I meant to convey that I am pretty well talked out and written out on my condition. There is little to add when I try to inform those following this blog. More and more, I have less and less to add to the conversation.
My response to treatment is extraordinary and, on the other hand, typical of about 20% of patients with MM. The miracle drugs that I take fulfill the promise of their clinical trials. And though the side effects of fatigue, eye irritation, and peripheral neuropathy may hobble me at times, their transient intensity always returns to a tolerable baseline. I am not dying of cancer; I am living with cancer.
Such is the modus operandi for MMers with low-risk disease. I have many acquaintances with MM following this same path. In spite of my complaints, I thrive. I try to maintain an attitude that manages life’s daily stresses. A modest yoga routine along with physical exercise keeps me grounded.
I admit that selling our house caused some anxiety. But soon all aspects of that will be completed. I look forward to the adventures of living in a new environment. I plan to keep blogging even though I mostly write something about nothing.
I’ll also keep photographing what catches my eye. In succeeding posts I will return to color photos. However, here’s hoping that my cancer remains an uninteresting black and white.