Thursday, March 11, 2010

Myeloma Youreloma - What's in a Name?

Lizzie, my six year old daughter, visited me in Little Rock during my treatment for Multiple Myeloma in the Summer of 2009. She asked me 'How is your 'eloma' doing, Daddy?' My 'eloma'? Oh,  I get it. I scooped her up in my arms and said 'My 'eloma's' a lot better now that you and Katie are here! '

It was the first time they'd seen me without hair and a mustache and certainly the first time they'd seen me with three strange tubes dangling out of my chest. Shoot- they'd never even seen me with two tubes sticking out of my chest!

And because my white blood cell count was bottomed out at 0.0 x 10^3/u L (translation: just about no white blood cells on the job - where's my bubble?) I had to talk with them through a bright yellow and white face mask.

The night before they visited, Lizzie told me on the phone that she was afraid to see me without hair, that she might not recognize me. It broke my heart that my kids, both adopted as orphans in China, had to worry about their dad being really sick and having to live away from home for a long time. But in Lizzie's magical everything's-going-to-be-okay way, she ended up rubbing my head for good luck and asking if I could put root beer into my port tubes. I wish! 'Daddy, what happened to your eyebrows? Do you still use shampoo? Did those tubes hurt when they put them in?' Well, no honey,it didn't hurt at all. They gave me a little shot.' Yes, they gave me a shot when they shoved a catheter into my jugular vein and sewed the port into the skin of my chest. Just so that you readers know - it didn't hurt. Really!

Things haven't been easy through this struggle, we've fought very hard to keep going. But never harder than when I remember that I'm not just some guy tackling this disease. I'm Katie and Lizzie's Daddy. I'd do just about anything for Katie and Lizzie's Daddy. Those kids deserve it.

It's never been all about me. This disease has affected everyone that loves me. I may have the diagnosis, but they, especially my wonderful wife, experience the fear, the uncertainty in ways that I can't imagine. I'm still standing because a lot of people have rallied around me. You folks living with cancer and dealing with other difficult situations know exactly what I mean.

Lizzie and Katie, I'm sorry to say that Myeloma is, well, Youreloma, too. But we're going to get through this together, Kiddos. My prayer is that one day we'll be able to say Bye-eloma to Myeloma. In the meantime, we're going to keep dancing and singing songs and baking chocolate chip cookies - with extra chips, of course, just the way we like them!

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