Mark Herkert
Mark Herkert

Found the Silver Lining: How Cancer Enhanced My Time
Friday, February 03
My myeloma recently became resistant to a chemo drug I had been on for two-and-a-half years. I am now test driving a different treatment – the latest in a long line of drugs I’ve taken over the past six-and-a-half years. The wrinkle with this treatment is that it requires regular, long infusions, greatly curtailing my free time. I have experienced fatigue, and it has impacted my workouts. It feels like my wings are clipped.
Myeloma is a funny cancer (can I can use funny and cancer together?). There are periods of stability where, to all outward appearances, you seem normal – no hair loss and often no appreciable side effects. Yet always lurking in the background is its incurable nature – these respites are but temporary, a calm in the eye of the hurricane. Eventually, myeloma adopts to whatever you throw at it, and then, it’s back to the drawing board. Hopefully your myeloma doesn’t progress faster than the medical researchers can develop new drugs. It’s basically an arms race.
During my first year of myeloma I had two stem cell transplants, and it was not at all clear whether I would beat my cancer into temporary submission. During this tenuous time, I was able to leverage this uncertainty (will he live another year or won’t he?) with bold requests of friends and family. Feeling badly about my situation, they all acquiesced, and I made a lot of progress on my bucket list.
Now that my health has improved and I am running circles around my non-cancer cohorts, my power has diminished. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who is preparing to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and participate in his third consecutive Olympic distance triathlon in Hawaii. Yet the basic fact remains – I have an incurable cancer.  The juxtaposition of this with my fitness level is confusing. The two should be mutually exclusive, but somehow they exist side by side.

So this is my challenge – how to rally people to help support a cure when I appear to be cured. Salespeople know the value of creating a deadline (three days left! They’re going quickly!) through tension.  Maintaining this sense of urgency – both personally (the never-ending and often expanding bucket list!) and as a fundraiser – can be stimulated by events beyond our control. The silver lining of my wrestling match with treatment may be to help those around me realize that my cancer struggles continue. If this reinvigorates my fundraising efforts, then I honestly can’t complain too much about my new treatment. As they say, a blessing in disguise.
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