By Jennifer Ahlstrom | Posted - Sep 12th, 2019

 

 

 

 

How Service Helps Me Deal with Multiple Myeloma and Why I'm a Myeloma Coach

Another myeloma patient I connected with on Facebook reached out to me and said:

I have been suffering from depression/anxiety. It seems that I get depressed and anxious about everything lately.  I don't know what to do about it anymore. I have been in bed practically all day and I just hate that. I also worry about you and all other MM warriors here.

Here was my response:

My dear friend, I am glad you reached out to me. Please don't feel you are burdening me. Last week when I found out that my numbers had made such a jump, I sat in my doctor’s office and I cried and cried. I was sitting in his office shaking so badly because of the reality that this could really be the end of the road. I decided I wanted to take a chemo that had previously given me a horrible reaction one more chance. The reason I mention this is because at the end of the appointment, I gave him a stack of cards that have my name, picture and info on it because I am a Myeloma Coach (www.myelomacoach.org). I showed it to him, he was impressed and gave it back to me.

I said: "No, these are for you to give to people that are having an emotionally tough time and need a Myeloma Coach!" As I said this eyes still red from the tears, I started to laugh as did he and my friend. The irony of me offering my emotional support to others while I am falling apart was not lost on any of us. We continued laughing and I said:

"You know; I am really just a very selfish person because I like to help others so I don't have to think about my own issues.”

I know people are inspired by me and I appreciate it, but for me, I get as much benefit from helping others as they do from me. You may think you are not at that point yet, but I encourage you to do something where you are helping others, and I promise you will find bit by bit that it is helping you too. I think if you wait until all your problems are gone, that time will never come.

There was a time that I was at least in as bad a shape as you. I write about it in my book A Pilgrimage Without End, How Cancer Healed my Broken Heart. I was so scared, anxious and depressed that I literally fantasized about ways to end my life. There was not a day that my husband did not come home to find me crying. I could not be around people because I cried all the time. I could not be on the phone because all I did was cry. If I had to go to the hospital for treatment, I would have to say the things I saw out loud; the clouds in the sky, trees, people, other cars. As soon as I would stop saying these things out loud, my mind would go back to how I could end my misery. 

This was in 2013, I am still here and I am glad that I am. Yes, I went through way more than I would ever wish on anyone, and yes I carry some deep scars, but still, even with the pain I am living with today, I am content, at peace and I feel I live a life of purpose. And you know what, I am in no way better or more special than you. I honestly, from the bottom of my heart believe you can get out of this place you are in now. How? Through determination, by reaching out for help, with medicine maybe, therapy, friends... AND ... Service!

Reach out to others and help them, however small. If you are too sick to go out to do this, do it from you home, from your couch, from your bed. The internet is amazing. the Myeloma Crowd needs more coaches! You can do it! Learn about Health Tree and how it can help other patients!

I love doing puzzles. I invite friends and neighbors to come over, make coffee, we work on puzzles and just start talking. Your problems are real and I am so sorry you have to deal with them, but as you notice I make those secondary to trying to help you feel better. I am not a very religious person. I think I am mostly a spiritual Omnist (someone who sees good parts in all religions and kinda meshes them together). For me that religion is LOVE. The reason I mention this is to show that even if you don't believe, you can still have FAITH ... in Life! You can surrender yourself to Life ... just as it is! You can learn to accept it, not passively, but actively, take control over what you are in control of, and let go of the rest.

I love you and I hope this helps. Call me tomorrow if you like. I can become your coach LOL.

Editor's note: Some of the Myeloma Coaches like Cherie focus on the emotional aspects of having multiple myeloma. Myeloma Coaches have different expertise, such as stem cell transplant, financial services, MGUS or smoldering myeloma, using HealthTree, or dealing with newly diagnosed patient issues. If you'd like to find a Myeloma Coach or become a Myeloma Coach, click here:

Find or Become a Myeloma Coach

 

 
Jennifer Ahlstrom
About the Author

Jennifer Ahlstrom - Jenny A - Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical trials. Founder of Myeloma Crowd, Myeloma Crowd Radio, HealthTree and the CrowdCare Foundation.

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