Matt Goldman
Matt Goldman

Staying Active in the Fight Against Cancer
Tuesday, November 22
I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma on May 2, 2011. That was the first time I had even heard of the blood cancer. I started chemo the very next day. Five and a half years later, I’ve done chemo nonstop. I’ve become refractory twice and am now on my 5th drug regimen. But I am fortunate that I feel good enough to climb the highest freestanding peak in the world, Mt. Kilimanjaro at 19,308 feet. That’s not to say it won’t be a challenge and likely the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. But it’s worth it for me personally and is an opportunity to raise funds and awareness to help find a cure for this currently incurable disease.
I started feeling not well two or three months before my diagnosis. I was having horrible fatigue, nightly fevers and night sweats. Before this, I really never got sick. I was always pretty healthy. Sure I’d have a cold now and again, but that was the extent of it. Prior to my diagnosis, I rode my bike to my work every day. It was a 10 miles trip each way. I noticed in early 2011, that I was getting overly winded on my normal ride. I wasn’t able to get a deep breath. I assumed I had some sort of bug and would simply ride it out. But the fatigue and lack of energy got worse, followed by the fevers and night sweats. I tried to rationalize things by telling myself I was getting older and out of shape. It was a frustrating feeling. Eventually I was hospitalized because I was so anemic and the myeloma was identified.
Most of my adult life, I’ve been active. Hiking, running, and cycling have always been part of my life. As I started to feel sick, I had to park my bike, I just didn’t have energy to ride. Eventually even driving tired me out. Some days just keeping my eyes open was a huge challenge. In some respects the cancer diagnosis was a welcome piece of news. Welcome in that the mystery of why I felt poorly was solved.
After the diagnosis, I cancelled my gym membership and with the help of friends built a simple home gym in my garage. I wanted to keep some semblance of fitness, but it took a couple of years before I felt like I could actually get back on my bike. It took those two years for us to get control of the myeloma. Eventually I started riding to work again. Making the commute on bike allowed me to feel and believe that I was going to be alright in the fight against myeloma. Since then I’ve done a 10k and a couple of other events that test my fitness and health, keep me motivated and raise money in the fight against blood cancers. Having a goal or target in mind is very important to me. Without a goal, the physical and mental challenges of myeloma might become overwhelming.
As the date of the climb approaches, I need to pick up my training. I don’t want to simply make it to the top of the mountain. I want to arrive feeling energetic and powerful. At the peak I want to cry tears of joy, not tears of pain. A myeloma diagnosis creates a new normal. My new normal includes working, doctor appointments, lab work and chemo. Sleep is at a premium for me. But I need to make time to train. Hiking, riding my bikes and walking my dog with a 25-pound pack on my back should all contribute to my readiness. Fortunately, I am climbing Kilimanjaro with an amazing team and great group of people, who keep my motivated and focused.  Successfully climbing Kilimanjaro will represent a huge step in fight to not just live with myeloma, but to thrive.
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