Written by Tina Winberg
I had just had my yearly physical and everything was normal but I had started having pain in my rib cage area and thought I pulled a muscle at the gym. My pain continued and it was later confirmed that I had a fractured rib. Problem was I didn't understand how that came about - I hadn't had any recent falls or injured myself. My husband insisted that I have a CT scan...I will NEVER forget the phone call from my family doctor the following morning, “You have Multiple Myeloma and you have to go and see an Oncologist.”
“Multiple what? And I have to see an Oncologist?” I was stunned and confused. I eat well, exercise, don’t smoke and barely drink. How is this possible?
Multiple Myeloma, or MM is a blood cancer and causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow. It eats up your bones and as a result, your bones end up looking like swiss cheese, causing them to be fragile and brittle.
Of course I googled MM and I learned that it mostly affects African American males in their 70's. Where did I fit in? I had planned to take a trip to Sweden with my friend Lori and our girls. My parents were turning 75 and 80 and we were planning a big party for them. “Should I not go?” So many dark thoughts crossed my mind and I found myself wondering, “Is this it?”
I saw my doctor who is both a Hematologist and an Oncologist and all I remember him saying was “You don't have to sell your farm”. I held on to those words and I still do today.
No one I spoke to had heard of MM and as a result, I felt really lonely. Luckily, I found Dave from Ohio, who was a 15-year MM survivor. Now there is a Facebook group for younger MM warriors from coast to coast.
I started chemotherapy and had my stem cell transplant in January 2017. I lost all of my hair and I remember my daughter Jessica who was 15 at the time say to me, “Mom, it's just hair, and it will grow back. Look at the beautiful blue eyes you have.” She was my biggest supporter and I am so blessed to have her in my life.
I am so fortunate to have an amazing family and friends. I have learned to look at what is really important in my life. I wake up every morning and send out positive affirmations to the universe. I have learned to look at myself and appreciate every part of my body, not just my hair. What once was important to me is no longer. I try to be kind and find kindness in other people. I send out as much love as I can and surround myself with like-minded people.
So, my answer to the question, “What makes me feel gorgeous?” My new soul makes me feel gorgeous.
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