I Have Cancer. Damn!


I was recently diagnosed (late September) with multiple myeloma or bone marrow cancer. My bone marrow has gone buck wild and is producing way too much of a particular substance the pathologist euphemistically calls ‘muck’. I’ve probably had it for some years, but the symptoms are very similar to those of other diseases and conditions making it difficult to diagnose. I’ve not been well for years. The past two years have been especially difficult and the last four months almost unbearable. I’m still functioning, but at a much-reduced level than I’m used to. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve had cancer. I had kidney cell cancer in 2002 and had my left kidney removed in an operation that left me with one (fully functioning) kidney. Now my remaining kidney is compromised because of the multiple myeloma so things aren’t looking particularly good for me. There are still tests to be performed and a prognosis to be arrived at, but as soon as the test results are in the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria will give me a call and arrange an interview and set a course of chemotherapy. A lot will depend on the stage of my myeloma. Some people do very well with chemotherapy and new drugs are being developed every day to target the specific pathogen that’s attacking my blood. I still may squeeze a few more years out of this old body of mine yet, but the next few weeks will tell the tale. Multiple myeloma is not curable, but it is treatable. 

I’m not afraid of death. I’ve often written about death and the cultural systems we’ve created to deny death, which actually build on our natural, biological aversions to disease and death. As you can easily ascertain by reading my blog this has been my main focus over the past few years. Dying is another matter altogether. I’m not particularly afraid of that either, but it is full of unknowns. I’m going through the various stages people do when faced with this kind of diagnosis: grief, anger, sadness, self-pity although these feelings are fleeting, and I soon get on to more positive emotions. I feel some guilt too. Yes, guilt. Guilt that’s impossible to escape in this culture. Guilt for succumbing to disease and death, the twin evils that we’ve identified as the greatest threats to us. In moral terms, and culturally, we abhor weakness, physical or social. Sick or poor people are to be feared in our culture. We tend to marginalize both if we can, but that’s not always possible because the world is not as simple as that.  

I know I’m on my last legs. I’m almost 73 after all and have had a great life. Nobody gets through life avoiding death except in novels and movies. I have no idea how long I have to live, but whatever time I have I just hope that my quality of life improves enough so that I can finish some paintings I’ve been working on, maybe re-canvas our canoe and continue writing this blog. In fact, I’ll use this blog as a kind of journal chronicling the process of being ill, then diagnosed, then treated. Stay tuned. 

Please don’t suggest any treatments or diets or whatever. I won’t be going to Mexico for any heroic treatments. (If and when I feel better we may go to lie on a beach though.) I’m not desperate. I won’t be buying a juicer either and I’ll continue to eat the great, wholesome mostly unprocessed food that I currently eat but my body will follow, as it must, the second law of thermodynamics. I’m okay with that.

18 thoughts on “I Have Cancer. Damn!

  1. Shit! I love you Roger and I trust my love helps you cope. You are a great man and with modern medicine I wish you as many years as there can be…

    Take good care my dear man…

    Jack (250) 792-4670

    On Thu, Oct 24, 2019, 2:35 PM Roger Albert – Always a Sociologist, wrote:

    > Roger JG Albert posted: ” I was recently diagnosed (late September) with > multiple myeloma or bone marrow cancer. My bone marrow has gone buck wild > and is producing way too much of a particular substance the pathologist > euphemistically calls ‘muck’. I’ve probably had it for so” >

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  2. I am very sorry to hear this news, Roger. You were my favourite NIC instructor. Thanks again for signing my application for my passport and for calling my son to talk to him about his future plans. it turned out that his heart was in construction rather than university and I respect that. you have contributed much to our society. You will be missed by many.

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn. I hope I’ll be missed at least a little, but I may be able to squeeze a few more years out of this tired old body. They have me getting treatment here even before I go to Victoria so I’m guessing my situation is a little more serious that we initially thought. But I don’t want to make up stories, so I’ll wait and see.
      Take care.

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  3. This sucks. Cancer sucks. Fuck cancer. I hope your treatment works spectacularly. Although chemo also sucks. The whole thing sucks. I got diagnosed with MS recently and that also sucks. Lot of crap going around. One of us is bound to win the lottery at this point.

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    1. You bet. We’d have to buy a ticket to win the lottery. We just don’t do that, but I would be happy with effective chemotherapy. My doctor went down the rabbit hole on this one. We suspected MS or some form of auto-immune disease. I did have low B12, but that may also have been an effect of myeloma. Who knows. It all sucks! You’re right!

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  4. Aww, damn is right! So sorry to hear this is the path you are facing, Rog, but applaud your realistic, no nonsense attitude towards. None of us gets to pick what disease may befall us but it is only us that can choose how we walk that path. My husband, Pat, had a pretty good year with terminal lung cancer,- with lots of fabulous laughs, events, and memorable moments. Of course, we both would have always wanted more time, but there is much to be said for knowing you don’t have much time – ‘cause you don’t waste a moment.
    Wishing you many memorable moments ahead with family and friends in abundance.

    Sending you love and strength
    Xxx
    Shirley Ackland

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    1. Thank you, Shirley. I have no idea how long I have to live. I haven’t even seen an oncologist yet, but I sure got their attention. This bullshit has been undiagnosed for years. I’m hoping that the new chemotherapy regimes will give me some better quality of life over the next while.

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  5. Well, I guess that explains the feeling poorly all this time. I promise that we will not tell you about yoga or diets or miracle cures – but when you feel up for a visit once all the to-ing and fro-ing is done, we will come to Cumberland and I’ll make Brian sing you a song. Or we’ll just visit. I’m sorry for all the medical interventions that will occur as a result of the diagnosis. Being medicalized is the worst. We are sending you are love (I think Brian already did in a FB message, but I’m doing it here). xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Megan. I will be getting some treatment here before going to Victoria. Prednisone is on the menu as well as another drug I need to get at the hospital intravenously. If you have a miracle cure that would be fine, but myeloma is incurable. Treatable, but incurable. Some people live a fairly long time with it.
      I’d love for Brian to sing me a song!

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  6. A beautiful piece of shriekingly honest writing. Yes, shriekingly, because it cries out to be heard, digested and remembered for a long time. Living sociology indeed. Sounds strange to write that I can’t wait to read the next installments of this blog, but it is true!

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  7. So sorry to hear of your diagnosis Roger. Our family is truly sad that you will be facing such a tough hike on new terrain. but also so impressed with your openness in your sharing and the acceptance and determination to face this Damn disease head on. On low days, try to remember that this community respects and cares deeply, You, Carolyn and family are surrounded with healing thoughts for inner peace and strength. Looking forward to your posts as you move forward… Love and Hugs to all, Sharon

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    1. Thank you so much, Sharon. We’re surrounded by so much love it’s almost overwhelming. We hope to get an appointment next week in Victoria for an interview with Dr. Yee at the Cancer Centre. After that we should know much more about my prognosis and treatment.
      I’m reminded of you every day. When you still had your art store I had you frame a couple of large photographs of Arianne and Marika. Arianne was seven at the time and Marika was ten so it was thirty or so years ago. Those photographs hang in our bedroom on the wall on my side of the bed. Every night when I go to bed I look into my daughter’s eyes in those photographs and know that life is good. Every morning when I get up I do the same thing and know that whatever happens, life is good and I have much to live for. Strangely enough, I have a vivid memory of when we went to your shop to pick up these photographs. You had them on a table and unveiled them. I was struck by the love and care you put into them, the matting is perfect and the frames are so apt. Love you, Sharon, and all the best to your wonderful husband and children.

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