How One Death and One Diagnosis Made Me Stronger
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
The scourge of domestic violence has cast a long shadow over my life. My younger brother passed away from AIDS in the late 90s in his early 30s. He was left on the streets to fend for himself since he was 12 years old.
His passing caused a deep and inconsolable pain in my life for many years. I tried to see the world through his eyes as we rode together in the ambulance for the last time.
As our childhood haunts whizzed pass to the song of the wailing siren, I squeezed his hand in distracted resignation. I had finally come to terms with his passing. The image of the orderlies forcing his stretcher through our living room door, is still a mental picture embedded in my mind to this day.
There was no way I could save him. His life here on earth was done.
Facing My Mortality
Six months ago I was forced to face the fact that my physical life could also be short-lived. A medical test during my yearly physical showed that I was at risk for Multiple Myeloma. It is a rare condition of the blood where some white blood cells in the bone can turn cancerous.
The cells can then spread causing great damage to the bone, kidneys and the immune system. This disease mainly affects an older population. It was my great fortune to receive this news at age 52. I am still in a good position to combat it but life is not the same.
MM can be contracted through family or environmental conditions but scientists are still not fully sure. There is a possibility my brother’s illness was further exacerbated by the presence of this disease. This traumatic health news fell on my life like a massive rock.
The revelation caused internal and external disturbances on all levels. I shook from head to toe, for an indeterminate amount of time, while receiving the diagnosis. What about my husband, daughter, and parakeet?
Who would take care of them? I was overwhelmed and fearful of the outcome. So much so I avoided saying the name of the disease or even looking up information about it.
Just a mere glimpse of my lab reports threw me into crisis. The disclosure instantly transformed my life in deep and profound ways. I was immediately rocketed back in time to the day I rode in the ambulance with my brother.
I finally understand his perspective during those transitional moments.
Moving Forward Amidst Numerous Obstacles
Today I am extremely thankful for the emergence of this health crisis. Currently, my diagnosis is, Monoclonal Gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS). I am at risk for Myeloma but the disease it is not yet evident in my body.
The fact that the potential is there has allowed me to become more determined than ever. I intend to live, what is left of my life, to the fullest.
Renewed Determination to Rise Above My Challenges
When a devastating and transformative situation ricochets through anyone’s life, the choices are limited. I knew I had two choices: spiral down into a pit of angst and woe-is-me anger at the unfairness of it all, or face the situation and rise above it. I chose the second option. Instead of allowing the negative voices in my head to untether me, I focused ahead.
Nowadays, my feet are planted deeply into the ground and I have accepted my new path. The last six months were spent living in the moment only absorbing what I need to and letting go of what I don’t. My days are focused on mindfully looking forward while living the moment in gratitude.
The most important thing is to love and embrace the life I still have. I do not dwell on issues, situations or people whom I have no control over. This illness has clarified my purpose. I am finally living an inspired life.