I do not know about you, but as I age and confront my mortality, and myeloma certainly makes us understand mortality, I find that I get closer to God! On this website I oftentimes give the sign off "Good Luck and May God Bless Your Family's Myeloma Journey" and I have received some negative feedback for mentioning God. The "Good Luck" is for those who do or do not believe, and the "God Bless" is for those who do. I try to offend no one, but am just trying to be of help to the myeloma patient community.
Much of this Myeloma Crowd site is data-based, and should be able to be used by all who have faith or do not believe in a higher power. Why do I even mention God or my faith in my journey with myeloma? The simple answer: I try to fulfill a promise I made to a nurse at Mayo in Jacksonville, Florida. I assume the healthcare professionals at Mayo knew (as did my daughter, a health editor at the Wall Street Journal) that as a myeloma patient with dialysis-dependent kidney failure in 2005, I had little to no chance of surviving more than six months. The average life expectancy for this combination was just three months. The nurse looked at me and said I will pray for you to beat this, but I ask that you bear witness. So this reference and my tendency to sometimes include faith in my writing comes from this interaction with a Mayo nurse, but most of all from my personal relationship with God.
I pray, and when I pray I find that I frequently believe I get confirmation through something that some people call a Godwink. WHAT'S A GODWINK? A godwink is what some people would call a coincidence, an answered prayer, or simply an experience where you'd say, "Wow, what are the odds of that!"It seems to me, I have had a few in my life. I find a Great Blue Heron seems to show up when I am in need of making difficult decisions and are answers to a prayer for guidance. This is a coincidence which repeats itself more times than I can count. But now that I live next to a pond in north Florida, they are around all of the time.
Godwink 4 - One such Godwink happened when I was at Mayo in Jacksonville and my prognosis was bleak. I was visited by a neighbor who was a miracle herself. She had a brain tumor, half of her brain had been removed and she was a happy, healthy, survivor. At the ICU at Mayo she, her husband, and my family prayed together, and it was cathartic. The nurse came through the door and said all the alarms were going off for heart rate, blood pressure, and more and thought I might be crashing. A few days later the doctor came to me and said he got my most recent light chain numbers and he thought the nurse had put the decimal point in the wrong location. My numbers went from terrible to near normal!
Godwink 5 - Mayo saved my life, but I had to make a decision where to get the stem cell transplant that my doctor at Mayo recommended. I talked to my accountant who had survived stage 4 cancer and she told me of her decision to go to the Cleveland Clinic and not to a hospital close to home. She remembered the Bible story of the woman who touched Jesus' robe. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. That Sunday my wife Anita and I went to church and our preacher taught about the woman who touched the robe of Jesus and was healed. I chose to go to UAMS in Arkansas and am now nine years in complete remission. Coincidence or Godwink?
If you have never heard of When God Winks at You, a popular series of books by author, inspirational speaker and former TV exec S Quire Rushnell, you should check it out. The series has appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. In addition to the books, I have a family who added me to many prayer lists, and this support and faith allowed me to have a comfort which made what was a very stressful situation almost stress free. I am an engineer and it is easy for me to be fact-based and analytic, however I also believe with divine guidance, we can always improve outcomes.
Good luck and may God Bless Your Family's Cancer Journey.
about the author
Gary is a myeloma survivor and patient advocate. His work centers around helping patients live longer by helping them to find facilities who are beating the average survival statistics. You can find Gary's site at www.myelomasurvival.com and follow him on Twitter at @grpetersen1