In a few weeks time one year will have passed since I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. An occasion that warrants little in the way of commemoration, yet nonetheless will inevitably command a moment of solemnity. I’d like to believe the day might come and go without being granted any respect whatsoever. But time is the great human dimension. It makes us who we are, and like it or not we’re hardwired to leverage its linearity to make sense of our existence. To measure and scale our progress against what we dared to dream, and what we were forced to endure.
After 12 months in the deleterious clutches of a disease like cancer, and the plethora of changes it’s forced across my life, and that of my family, and I can’t help feeling slightly overwhelmed by how highly charged that examination might be. Robbed of so much, yet blessed at the same time with an equal amount, it’s a perplexing contradiction to have to understand. In times of chronic life turbulence, instinct is to grip on tightly to whatever gives us license to be heard and loved. Usually at the expense of the things that also come through the experience, that give us license to grow. Not in a silver lining, glass half full type of way. But simply in obedience with the Universal Law of Polarity, and the unfathomably difficult human task of understanding that even in our darkest of days, the difference between light and shadow is a simple choice.
Not long ago I was faced with such a task. Despite being given the all clear by my Doctors in September, it turns out that I only had a partial response to the bone marrow transplant. Whilst there was no sign of the disease in my bone marrow, a subsequent blood test sadly detected a persistence presence of the myeloma. I’m not aware of the statistics but for someone of my age, a bone marrow transplant represents very good odds for earning a long and complete remission from the disease. So to be told mine had only partially worked, and I was to go back on immediate medication, was a crushing blow. We’d all been through so much, already.
And there’s the moment. Move forward with optimism, courage and quiet resilience, or turn our backs on hope and tremble in the shadows of a predicament that feels increasingly as if it’s out of our control? A simple choice. Thankfully my decision, as it always has been lies nestled in the eyes of my wife and daughter, for who I fight every second of every day. A simple choice.
Thankfully my response to the subsequent treatment has been excellent so far, despite having to carry around it’s actual and possible side-effects like an ill fitting ruck sack. But the actuals are easily manageable, and the possibles only become viable if we feed them with thought and worry. And upon reflection, this unfortunate deviation from what I dared to dream has (of course) given me considerable license to grow. Ushering back into my day-to-day focus certain elements of my lifestyle that I had unwittingly let slip under that false dawn of Remission. Exceptional nutrition, correct exercise, daily inner-work and contemplation, and the steadfast pursuit of a life and career built around my passions. Shame on me for needing such a white-knuckle reminder! But there’s the good. And there is always good. There is always light, if we are prepared to make that choice. Even in the face of something has cruel and unyielding as cancer.
And so it transpires, I’ve written myself into deciding that I will celebrate on November 27th. For all the right reasons and for all the right people. It’s a simple choice, after all.
Until then. Peace & calm