I fell off my bike. It was August 1991. I was merely peddling slowly up a small hill in Mendocino, California, while on vacation with my wife. My legs just gave out on me. I was adjacent to a grassy part of the hill, so I just fell sideways and gently landed on the dirt.
Two days earlier, while driving up the coast from our home in Los Angeles, we stopped at a lighthouse. I wanted to dash up its steps to the top. I got to the top, but had stopped dashing long before reaching it, my legs having grown very tired.
I thought nothing of these separate occurrences, attaching no significance to these apparently unrelated events.
At least not until August 30, 1991, when I received blood test results after a routine physical exam….My internist advised that he had bad news and good news. The bad news was that I had a blood cancer. The good news was that it was Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia (WM), an indolent, slow-moving form of cancer that is in the bone marrow and lymph glands.
My internist, a friendly acquaintance from college, referred me to Dr. James Berenson, who has become more than a friendly acquaintance over the years. Indeed, we have grown (much) older together. Jim has benefited from being exposed to my sparking personality. I have benefitted more so, however, not only from his, but because, as a result of his thoughtful and skilled care and caring, I am still around to write about my experience with this disease….
During all of these years, I continued to play handball, ski, bike, hike, and backpack, needing to pick those times to do so when I was not troubled by a bit of anemia (such as it has been, on and off). Thankfully, I have not been anemic for quite a long time now. Also, I have worked full-time throughout my WM. We have been able to travel and live a mostly normal life. Although the reality of my condition has been a constant in my life from the start (when will something go wrong, or get worse), I have been thankful that all has gone as well as it has. For various reasons, much having to do with my running out of others to do certain things with, I have discontinued some of the above sports….