Positivity Helped Me Survive Multiple Myeloma

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"For their love, support and kindness, I am eternally grateful and blessed to have such people in our lives," said Levinson.

Image of a smiley face with two other faces.

Staying positive helped Levinson through three cancers.

This June, I’m celebrating my 65th birthday, my 5th re-birthday following my autologous stem-cell transplant (SCT; replacing damaged stem cells with the patient’s own healthy stem cells) and my 18th year of surviving two plasmacytomas (tumors of the plasma cells in bony or soft tissue) and multiple myeloma.

I am married to the best woman in the world — the love of my life — my best friend and companion. She has been by my side providing emotional support and encouraging me to overcome my diagnosis. I’m blessed with 2 daughters, a son-in-law and my first grandchild. I promised my daughters I had many goals to accomplish and so far, I’m proud to say that most of my goals have come true.

Prior to my multiple myeloma diagnosis and through the various treatments, I had been a volunteer with organizations providing Meals on Wheels, literacy programs and community services. I’ve felt a strong desire to give back. I believe these acts of kindness have helped to build my worth in the community. They have been done to help others without expecting anything in return. When the tide changed and I was in need, my community stepped forward with the love and support that helped me out of the dark hole of cancer and motivated me to beat this disease.

In 2006, I had a plasmacytoma on my T7 vertebrae and was successfully treated with radiation. In 2014 another plasmacytoma manifested itself on C2, again, successfully treated with radiation but my C2 was pulverized. I was like one of the Rock’em Sock’em Robots ready to get my block knocked off. The collateral damage required reconstructive neck surgery placing rods in my neck to support my head. I can no longer turn my head and am now very forward-focused.

In January 2018, I finally crossed to full-blown multiple myeloma. I thought that I should have no problem with treatment, as I had been down this road before. Boy was I wrong! Revlimid (lenalidomide), Velcade (bortezomib) and dexamethasone killed the cancer and tragically, the Velcade left me with debilitating neuropathy in my legs, feet and hands and an inability to walk. My SCT was delayed a year as I worked to gain the strength for the transplant.

Multiple myeloma really kicked my butt. I was homebound, unable to do anything for myself. We were living in a city with no family and limited friends. My wife had a corporate job as a VP/GM of a high-end retail store and could not stay home to care for me. So, she sent out an all-points bulletin to our friends and family about our need for help.

Remarkably, we had 27 caregivers make 45 visits to lend a hand over four months. They took great care of me and us. Drove me to doctor appointments and myriad therapy sessions as well as grocery shopping and handled the cooking. They rose to the challenge selflessly and through their care I began the journey to get back on my own two feet. For their love, support and kindness, I am eternally grateful and blessed to have such people in our lives.

Today I am back to volunteering again giving back to my community. I pick up food from retailers for the food bank and deliver it to a Meals on Wheels location. Most importantly, I volunteer in my cancer infusion clinic providing support for the patients, nurses and clinicians. The patients appreciate volunteers who have cancer and when we exchange stories and they hear of my 18 years of being a survivor they can find hope. I find inspiration in their stories and watch their progress through treatment. Those weekly four hours are some of the best of my week.

Cancer sucks and getting it three times is at least three times more than I expected, but it has taught me that being a good person, being selfless and giving back to the community will come back in droves. It helps me stay positive and healthy as I look forward to growing old surrounded by the family and friends who supported me during this wild ride of my life.

This post was written and submitted by Jeff Levinson. The article reflects the views of Levinson and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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