We’re not friends or family. I’ve never met Tom Brokaw. Yet, I know him well. And I understand what he’s going through.
I know him only through his illness, multiple myeloma, which he has made public in the last several months in the media and his recently released book, A Lucky Life Interrupted. Although I haven’t read it yet, I have a pretty good idea of what it entails. I have multiple myeloma too.
Fortunately, I became aware of my initial abnormality years ago. Several oncologists, who specialize in myeloma, monitored my health closely. Choosing a smart, family medicine doc or internist – I’ll address that in another blog – has also made a huge difference in my health. What’s more, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about cancer in depth as an oncology representative for a pharmaceutical company and later as a national oncology trainer.
You may be thinking that’s not the usual trajectory of a cancer patient. You’re right. But, you don’t need to have worked in oncology or medicine in general to know when something is wrong with your body – really wrong. Not just a sniffle here and there or a little backache, but pain that won’t go away or a major change in body function. Our bodies usually begins whispering to us – “we’re having a problem here” –and if we choose to ignore the message, it gets louder and louder until it begins shouting – “HEY, PAY ATTENTION, DUMMY!!!”
I understand we all want to be healthy, fully functioning, looking great, accomplishing our goals and kicking “a” every day. I know I do. It’s a lovely concept, but at times pretty unrealistic. Even the internationally respected, consummate journalist, Tom Brokaw, finally had to say uncle to his pain. Much thought, I’m sure, went into his decision to make his illness public. He chose to graciously and generously tell the story of his “lucky life interrupted” focusing on the importance of family, advocacy, resilience and hope. He also shared the many challenges, changes and uncertainties all cancer patients and their families face.
My friends and family know me as the “why wait” woman, because I’m convinced life is for living now, right now. So, if you hear your body speaking to you and the volume keeps rising – why wait? Find a great doctor and learn what you’re dealing with now. The only way to live your life in this very moment is to survive your illness in the first place!