A few years ago a friend of mine shared a poem by an unknown author entitled, “People Come into Your Life for a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime.” It is too long to share here but you can find it on the internet. The theme of the poem is that people do not come into your life by accident, but rather, there is a purpose for their being there. And sometimes, when that purpose has been fulfilled, they leave. Several people have come into my life during my journey with multiple myeloma for a reason and a season and are now gone. But they have left their mark.
One of the first people I encountered in my journey was a wonderful IV nurse named Jen. Jen realized quickly that I did not particularly relish having an IV needle inserted into a vein in my hand. Jen decided that it might be easier for me if she used a needle that was normally used for infants. The “baby needle” as she called it, made things much easier. Although there were two IV nurses in the office, Jen always made sure that she got to me first. She even stayed with me one day for eleven straight hours while I was given high dose chemo prior to my stem cell transplant.
During the chemo sessions Deb and I got to know Jen quite well. She was studying to become a nurse practitioner and she talked to us about her classes and her hopes for the future. Even after my initial treatment was finished I continued to need maintenance therapy. Part of that was the IV administration of a bisphosphonate, a bone strengthening drug. My reliance on Jen continued during this phase. But, one day Jen graduated, became an NP, and moved on.
It’s o.k. Jen, I’m doing fine now. And I don’t even dread needles anymore. Well, maybe just a little bit.
A second person was a fellow patient named Betty. In her long life Betty had been through much, but despite all the adversity she had experienced, she remained positive. Betty gave me a coin that was inscribed “I not only believe in miracles, I expect them.” Betty was a fighter. She was a bit feisty and could be a bit rough around the edges. But she was a very kind, caring person who was an inspiration in my life.
Betty always referred to me as her boyfriend and to Deb as her boyfriend’s wife. We periodically talked on the phone and laughed a lot. Betty constantly challenged me to never give up. Sadly, my dear friend passed away a few years ago.
It’s o.k. Betty, I’m doing fine now. And I haven’t given up and I promise I never will.
A third person was my nurse practitioner, Melissa. Melissa got me through the initial phases of my chemo and even checked on me when I was in the hospital for my stem cell transplant. After the transplant I saw Melissa almost every month for six years while I was on maintenance medication. During those visits she went over my blood work, gave me a mini-physical, and spent time just chatting with us. We laughed a lot and she was always encouraging. During that time Melissa did take a couple of leaves of absence for the birth of her two children but she always came back.
Then one day I got a letter from Melissa informing her patients that she was leaving the practice. It was like getting a “Dear John” letter. I was heartbroken. I had lost another very important person who had come into my life. During my journey I saw Melissa more than all my other medical specialists combined.
It’s o.k. Melissa, I’m doing fine now. And I will continue to do fine because of you.
One person who was a constant provider throughout my journey was my primary care physician. I credit him for my early diagnosis and for referring me to an oncologist who turned out to be perfect for me. After my diagnosis he took it upon himself to learn as much about multiple myeloma as he could. I saw him at least twice a year for my annual physicals and whenever I had a sniffle or two. He monitored my overall health and referred me to other specialists when needed. He made sure that I remained otherwise healthy despite the cancer.
My primary care physician retired a couple of months ago. I had been with him for almost 30 years. I will miss my visits with him and the advice he provided about my cancer treatments and overall health situation. While I’m sure that I’ll do fine with the doctor taking over his practice, it won’t be the same.
It’s o.k. Doc, I’m doing fine now. And my prognosis for many more healthy years is good because of you.
Many people have come into my life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime and I am better off because of you. You may not be part of my life now, but your impact will last a lifetime. Thank you.
Life is good.