One of the hardest things about having a life-threatening disease is determining when to tell family. As many of you know, I’ve been hiding Parkinson’s and my cancer for some time, having told roughly nine people. And when you do, the thought of what to say is on the forethought of the brain. “Hey, the weather is going to be great this weekend. Daily high temperatures will be 84 degrees. And, oh, by the way, I have cancer. So, wanna grab a cheeseburger? There’s a great palce down the road?”

My family has always been a kind of ‘suck it up, dude’ mentality. “It’s all mind over matter,” my father often stated as he paraded around one Christmas with a nearly broken ankle. “Mind over matter.” Early in our lives, our family conditioned my brother and me to accept our lot, banish any pain to some unreachable spot in our psyche, and get on with living. It was the manly thing to do. As such, I have been burying pain for the better part of forty years.

“What the hell is kappa light chain deposition disease?” my brother asked. So I made a stab at simplifying the entire disease into its basic form. Kappa light chain deposition disease (KLCD) is a rare medical condition where an abnormal protein called kappa light chain stays in various body organs, such as the kidneys, liver, heart, and nerves. “The ‘good news’ is that had it not been for the fact that I went to the Long-COVID clinic for testing, the condition would not have been detected. Unfortunately, the bad news is that Light Chain Deposition Disease is not curable. The best I can hope for now is that the doctors will try to keep this at its current level. Many get a ‘remission,’ but it usually returns.”

I further explained I went to a Caner Orthopedic Surgeon and Cancer Hematologist. They decided to rerun the January (2023) tests to see if the test(s) were an anomaly. After 13 days, the test returned this past Monday. Unfortunately, the tests duplicated nearly the same results, with only a .3% difference between January and May. Therefore, the doctors classified my condition as probable early Kappa Light Chain Deposition Disease (as more testing is required). The other weird good news is that the disease has not significantly progressed since January.

After diagnosing Light Chain Deposition Disease, the following steps usually involve further testing and staging to determine the extent and severity of the disease. Next, the healthcare team will work to assess my overall health and any potential risk factors and choose the appropriate treatment plan. Treatment options for multiple myeloma may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, targeted therapy, or a combination of these approaches.

Patients with multiple myeloma may also be referred to supportive care services such as pain management, nutrition counseling, physical therapy, or emotional support to help manage symptoms and maintain quality of life. Regular monitoring and follow-up appointments will also be scheduled to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment and manage any side effects or complications that may arise.

It is important to note that spirituality is diverse and complex, and there is no one “correct” way for a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, etc., to react to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. However, some possible reactions or approaches might include ‘Acceptance.’

One of the core teachings in Buddhism and other religions is the concept of impermanence, which emphasizes that all things, including our bodies and health, are subject to change and decay. Therefore, a diagnosis of multiple myeloma is a natural part of the impermanent nature of existence and the practice of accepting the situation as it is. And that’s what I have been doing for several years.

Another key concept in my life is mindfulness, which involves being fully present and aware in the current moment without judgment or attachment. Thus, my approach to this diagnosis has been to focus on the present moment, acknowledge any physical or emotional discomfort, and work to cultivate a sense of calm and inner peace.

Last, I still have a sense of faith and spiritual beliefs in a higher power or spiritual path. I believe God plays a role in my response to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. I turn to meditation or other spiritual practices to find comfort, guidance, or strength during difficult times.

I can’t say how all this works for anyone else, but that’s how I did it. Whether that works for those you tell, I am still determining. However, in the long run, cancer will wear me down. And unlike Parkinson’s (at least for now), I cannot hide it forever; eventually, everyone comes clean.