At the IMF International Journalist Workshop here in Atlanta this evening, I learned that myeloma survivor, Don Wright from St. Paul, Minnesota, had just completed his goal of running marathons in 50 different states--all since he was diagnosed eight years ago.
Good for you, Don! But as impressive as Don's public achievement seems, it pales in comparison to helping save a life--mine.
Don was the first multiple myeloma survivor I met following my diagnosis back in 2007. Don and his lovely wife and daughter invited me to join them for lunch at one of the first IMF Patient/Family Seminars.
At the time I was lost. Utterly and totally lost. How was it possible that an otherwise healthy, 51-year-old could be dying of bone marrow cancer?
Don calmly reassured me as I rattled-off questions with incomprehensible speed. How long had he been living with multiple myeloma? Did he have bone pain like me? What therapy was he on? Did it ever get any better?
By the time we finished our salads and started our main course, I had already started to relax. Don spent almost an hour with me that day, quietly yet confidently "talking me down."
But it didn't stop there. Don suggested I visit a nearby myeloma support
group with him the next week. In person, by email and over the phone, Don
helped me learn more about my cancer--and how to emotionally cope.
I'm happy and excited for Don on so many levels. To achieve such an ambitious goal must be incredibly gratifying for him and his family. The fact that his achievement will help raise awareness and funding for myeloma research is icing on the cake.
But Don's most important achievement? Helping fellow patients like me see that their lives don't have to end when the doctor says, "I'm sorry, you have multiple myeloma."
For that I will always be grateful. Feel good and keep smiling!