Posted on July 18th, 2012 by Admin
Editor's Note: Andy S. is a patient/caregiver who submitted the following essay as part of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Patient, Caregiver Scholarship Contest. To vote, simply use the Facebook "Like" or Twitter "Tweet" buttons at the bottom of each post to share or leave a positive comment. The top vote-getters will be finalists.
The winter of 2007 was the end of my first life. Hacking a machete down a trail in Costa Rica, I thought I broke a rib. I lived with rib and spine pain until May of 2008 when I was diagnosed with stage III Multiple Myeloma. I was then 4.5 inches shorter due to spinal deterioration. I still cannot walk long distances without walking sticks, but I can pedal 70 miles a day on my bike. I am blessed.
Now 5 years post chemo and stem cell transplant, I am attempting to inspire others with my journey away from the abyss. Since April, 2011, I have made five Myeloma Awareness fundraising trips for IMF (International Myeloma Foundation) covering 2,800 miles. See my IMF web links to my bicycle adventures on my “business card” below.
Thankfully, my markers are still in normal range. I continue to be in “complete response.” Because of the help I received, I want to give back. I have found a method that suits my desire. In my first life, I was an outdoor enthusiast; I ran whitewater and kayaking businesses here in the states and Latin America, I spent my summers exploring in Europe. I have been a “guide” all my life.
These last two years since my return from Europe have been fun and fulfilling with bicycle adventures around different parts of the USA with one objective: Multiple Myeloma awareness. My most recent trip covered 1,538 miles with my back tire in Venice, Louisiana and my front tire in St. Augustine,Florida and twelve IMF meeting presentations in between.
I ride for enjoyment and health as well as to bring awareness of this disease. I have addressed people in the northeast, theDeep Southand throughout the southwest. With this essay, I hope to keep the momentum going.
Everywhere I go; this is the business card I hand out:
All of my adventures have been self-financed while raising funds for IMF research. I make an effort to meet as many patients and caregivers as possible on my journeys. I am outgoing and not afraid to talk to people so that can be a plus. I also speak Spanish as a second language.
I need to do more towards helping people understand that cancers are not the death sentence we once assumed they were. I want to learn how to do this more efficiently; in an upbeat way. While not fun to think about, for me, it is good to discuss cancer in a lighter vain. My new 2nd life is about exploring my new self while bringing information to the public about the ongoing battle.
I can use help. I am not afraid to ask for it. I have received help in the media world arranging radio spots, as well as TV and news print. This wasn't accomplished alone; the aid of knowledgeable, local people to make the right contacts was required.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I will keep trying. That is my goal for now. With the help of many people, my last bicycle adventure of more than 1500 miles wrapped up in a most successful way. I had fun every mile of the journey. I look forward to more adventures while my good health continues.
This is my new life. I appreciate whatever help you can provide.
See a sampling of articles and media spots listed below:
Radio and web interview in New Orleans, thanks to Taylor Lasseigne---Louisiana
Slices of America Blog
Slicesofamerica.com (click to listen)
Newspaper Articles—Arizona to Florida
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