By Marty Singer
My multiple myeloma journey started in November of 2015. I had a severe pain in my back. I went to the hospital and they did a scan. The doctor told me to come back with my wife. I knew something was wrong but, I never expected to hear the word “cancer.”
Through a neighbor, I was recommended to a multiple myeloma specialist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. I was terrified and my mind was going a million miles an hour in every direction. The doctor performed the first bone marrow biopsy I ever had, and boy did that hurt. He confirmed the diagnosis.
The harvesting of my stem cells was the first step toward my first stem cell transplant which began my mental decline. I was put in isolation for three weeks during the harvest period. I had young children and I still a lot I wanted to accomplish in life. I became very depressed. The hospital provided many services to help me - a psychologist, social workers, clergy of all faiths, meds but, it still couldn’t lift the depression I was feeling. Never in my life had I felt that way. I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel.
My road to mental recovery began when I put a rational spin on what I was going through. I was in the hands of some of the best doctors in the country and the hospital was doing everything possible to help me. Now, it was up to me to do my part. I regained my “will to live.” I had the support of family, friends, co-workers, community and people who were part of my life during my youth who supported me. The “black cloud” had been lifted.
I went through two stem cell transplants and made the decision that when I got better, I would give back to others in need. I contacted several organizations to ask: What can I do to help others? Helping others has helped to strengthen my mental state of mind. When I had a patient tell me, “I changed their life,” just by being there and giving them support, that was the icing on the cake. I’m always there to help another person in need. I try and do at least one good deed every day. It could be for a family member or a stranger.
Today, I am mentally tougher than I’ve ever been in my life. I can handle whatever comes my way.
Marty is now sharing his knowledge and experience with myeloma to help others. He volunteers as a HealthTree Coach to support, educate, and empower other myeloma patients and caregivers. HealthTree Coach is a free program offered to all myeloma patients and caregivers. No one should have to face myeloma alone. If you are living with or caring for someone with myeloma, you can receive personalized support from a Coach. Or, if you have experience with myeloma you are willing to share, consider becoming a Coach.
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about the author
Rozalynn Hite is the HealthTree Coach Director and wife of myeloma patient Richard Hite. Rozalynn is an occupational therapist and mother of three beautiful children.
The Science and Art of Creating Your Personalized Myeloma Treatment Strategy with Dr. Murali Janakiram, City of Hope
Jun 13 / 18:00 PDT