Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Go Forth and Multiply
Unfortunately, due to the increasing rate of younger patients being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, this issue has presented itself one too many times. MM has the capability of destructing so much in its path, the miracle and ultimate blessing of children is one of the worst atrocities, in my humble opinion.
So, how do we fight back?
When Kirk was diagnosed, he had to begin treatment immediately. We just had our youngest son, Guy, and the thoughts of growing our family were not a high priority.
Most Multiple Myeloma patients will be treated with Revlimid from the beginning stages, and as we quickly learned, that particular drug causes severe birth defects. What we did not learn, however, was how long Kirk was going to be on Revlimid. Or that a stem cell transplant causes most men to become sterile.
Our doctor told us that there was a small window of time we could "make deposits in a bank." After Kirk completed his five rounds of chemotherapy, we had an eight week period of time between the chemotherapy and the first stem cell transplant. Our doctor told us to wait six weeks after chemo and bank before Kirk started giving himself the neupogen shots for stem cell collection. That gave us a total of five days.
It was an agonizing decision, but we decided that things were difficult enough between the cancer, the new baby and our two businesses. However, for a couple that desired children, the five days would have been exactly what was needed to give them some hope that life can overcome MM.
Of course, there is a percentage of men who do not become sterile after transplant. And I have read that after time, a man can rebound. Lastly, adoption would be such a beautiful life choice.
An acquaintance asked me recently if Kirk and I could have more children, and I said probably not, but I would not hesitate to try if ever given the option again. This person asked me if I thought it was fair to have more children when the possibility existed that Kirk would not be with us. Fair for whom, I asked. She said for all of us. I gave her a short non-committal answer because I was taken back by the question.
A few months later, I watched an interview with Steve Irwin's wife and two children on Oprah. His wife said that their little boy watches videos of his father everyday, and the little boy was crying during the interview. I literally felt myself turn inside out in pain. I could not help but to put Guy's face on that little boy. I felt like I was witnessing the pain that Guy would experience one day, and it was truly unbearable. I thought about that woman's question all day.
And this is what I have decided. I am not a fan of the word "fair" after all of the recent changes in our life. I am, however, grateful for the pain and hardship that we all feel as a result of Kirk's illness. We feel this pain because of the importance of Kirk in our lives. We feel this pain because we have been blessed with love. Guy will hurt, and it will take all of my strength to pull him through the hard times, but I am so grateful that Guy has been blessed with a loving, caring, fun, and actively involved father. Regardless of whether we have Kirk for one more year, ten more years, or even thirty, it is more than "fair" for all of us, plus anyone else that might happen to come along:-)
So, good tidings to all of you who choose to go forth and multiply!