One year. Yesterday, Dec. 7, marks one year. Dec. 7, 2007, that was the day I was first diagnosed with cancer. The doctor did not have yet the specific form of cancer, tests were still being done. I really believe she only told me because I made her. I think I forced her hand by telling her I was going out of town for a week, and really needed to know something. So she told me. Those of you who have experienced this understand what I mean when I say time stopped, and suddenly the entire world changed. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could ever be the same again. Everything is experienced through the filter of this disease. Even now, one year later, after all that has happened in this year, even though I received an autologous stem cell transplant that has pushed this cancer into remission, everything is seen through the filter of cancer. I am not the person I was one year ago. Yes, I would have, hopefully, changed during this past year even without a cancer diagnosis. But how I changed, who I have become in this past year, is because of Multiple Myeloma. I am not the person I was, nor am I the person I would have been. I am who I am today because of the experiences of this year. Who is that person? I’m not always sure, but I did find out one thing. The person I have become is stronger than I thought, a survivor. I do know that this strength did not come just from within me, but from God. Strength was found in faith and in the love, prayer, and support of family, friends, and people I do not even know. My wife and I spent this past weekend at St. Meinrad Archabbey (one of my favorite places in the world) with dear and close friends, people I love more than I can say. We celebrated remission, we celebrated each other, we celebrated our friendship and love. I celebrate that thanks to their love, support and prayers, thanks to the love of my family, my sisters, my brother, their families, my mother’s prayers, and the prayers of countless others, I can today, one year later stand and say I am a survivor.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Dec. 8, 2008