It’s been two months since my bone marrow cancer diagnosis. Two weeks since I returned home from my first visit to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle.
Two days until my first bone marrow biopsy – the results of which will designate me as Stage 1, 2 or 3. Myeloma doesn’t have a Stage 4. This staging biopsy will be the final piece in the puzzle that will inform my treatment.
The biopsy will count the white cells, red cells, plasma, and proteins in my bone marrow. They have caught this early. M-protein levels are high in my body, which is NOT “normal.”
I want to shout: “I never claimed to be normal!” Laughter can heal. I’m even exploring laughing yoga. HAH!
I’m learning all kinds of new medical designations and I’m leaning into a spirit of gratitude in all of this, because reality is that my numbers could be SO much worse.
In order to minimize travel costs for my tests and appointments, Fred Hutchinson in Seattle is collaborating with my local Idaho medical system.
Hematologist visits will be conducted via Zoom, and the bone marrow biopsy will take place here, which I’m told is a simpler process than a childbirth spinal block. My two adult kids are almost 40, and I never had one of those during their births! Times have certainly changed, and so have I.
I will be moving to Seattle in January 2024. Myeloma will be a part of my life for the rest of my life. I have qualified for an affordable, rent-controlled senior studio apartment in a 12-story building—hallelujah!
So, I’m sorting and shedding oodles of possessions, keeping only what I will take by U-Haul to furnish my studio apartment there. This process feels incredibly hopeful and honestly lightens my spirit.
I’m deeply grateful for the support and love from friends in all the places I have lived. Their offers of assistance, company during my medical procedures, and the chance to connect with friends provide tremendous comfort while I am dealing with ‘my reality.’ These friendships will endure beyond my time in Southern Idaho.
The nights can be more challenging after receiving the big “C” diagnosis. While I enjoy living alone, solitude can feel heavy when worries and uncertainties weigh on my chest at 2 a.m.
So, I envision myself as a Care Bear (remember those?), radiating love into the world from the cold heaviness in my heart. Honestly, it helps.
Every day is different, but I am feeling mostly okay physically. The fatigue and spinal pain I’ve lived with for quite a while persist, but now I know why. I do my best to honor what my body tells me it needs in any given hour or day.
I choose not to invest time or energy in asking, “Why me?” The more profound question is, “Why not me?” Many people around the world confront significant challenges every day, and there’s no inherent reason I should be exempt from life’s trials.
I’m certainly working through the stages of grief. Life, as I have known it, has suddenly and permanently changed. I’ve discovered that even in my grief, there is beauty.
Many little things I love, such as good music, a comforting cup of tea, walks with my dog, and conversations with friends, bring immense comfort to my spirit.
In this most challenging time in my life as I confront cancer, Acceptance and Hope shine as the guiding lights propelling me. I am learning to live with my reality. There will be good days and bad days, but no matter what comes my way, I will keep moving forward.
“I don’t encourage false positivity. Be sad when you’re sad. Cry if you must. Be angry if you are. Let it out. Then let it go. Honor your emotions, but always choose to dwell on the positive ones.” ~Charity Telmo
Editor’s Note: “It’s no secret that cancer not only affects one’s mental and physical health but can also have a significant financial impact on a patient. We understand that times are tough for many, and your support would mean the world to Carolyn. Whether it’s through a donation, sharing the campaign, or simply spreading the word, every bit helps immensely. Your kindness and generosity can make a significant difference in her journey. Please visit her GoFundMe page.“
About the Author:
Carolyn Bolton is a ‘Go-To-Person’—friends and family will always find a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear with Carolyn. If you’ve had the privilege of knowing or meeting Carolyn, you’re aware of her extraordinary compassion. But above all, she is a mother, grandmother, lover of animals, friend to many … dreamer, philosopher, survivor, writer, musician … endlessly curious and deeply devoted to those she loves.