Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's your Mountain?

When I think about my journey with an incurable cancer, I can't help to think that everyone is dealing with some sort of cancer. Whether a broken relationship, an absent parent or a rare disease like cancer, we all have something that is nagging us, no one is left unharmed in this world.

Knowing this gives me personal comfort in that I am not alone, and even greater, I feel a sense of community, a sense of shared purpose to overcome the darkness.

One year ago I took what I hoped to be my last dose of chemotherapy. I had been cancer free for a year and completed 3.5 years of treatment. I was sick of being sick and ready to dominate life without this disease; with out a daily dose of chemo.

Well, almost one year after stopping treatment, I sat in the doctor's office on Wednesday to learn that my Myeloma is officially back and measurable. The last few blood tests showed a trace amount, but it wasn't even significant enough to measure.

As the news starts to circulate, I start to get the, "I am soooooooo sorry to hear this." This morning I received a text from one of my best friends that said, "Dude, I just heard about your M spike that you obviously didn't tell me about while I was whining about my much less important garbage. You guys holding up okay?"

My response back to my good friend, "I didn't want to detract from the conversation. Myeloma has consumed us for many years, no need to have it dominate our conversation last night."

You see, I want people to not look at my mountain as harder or more significant that the mountain in their own life. More important, I want to be able to support others, especially those close to me in their efforts to overcome their own difficult and uncertain journey.

So how am I doing? I am hanging in there, but how are you doing? How's your marriage? How's your relationship with your daughter? How are you living out your strengths? What's holding you back in life, in your career? What changes do you need to make?

Myeloma, yes, it has returned...but we have climbed this mountain before and we will scale it again. But what about your mountain?


(Thanks mom for the Dr. Seuss quote, it inspired this post)


Sweet Jilly said...

Phil, you continue to inspire me with your positive attitude. You also help me put things in perspective. Things in my life aren't that good right now, but I keep a smile on my face and keep at it. You're in my prayers, friend.

Shannon DeBoer said...

What is my mountain? Right now, it is that I can't take Adam's cold and bad cough away from him and give it to me. I know it hurts him to cough and there isn't anything I can do but let it run it's course. I am think you all of you. Love you guys!

Linda said...

What a great quote from Dr. Seuss, and what a wonderful reminder that we all have our "crosses to bear", but let's keep climbing those mountains and living life to the fullest! I write this as EZ and I head to the beautiful "mountains" of Boone, NC for the week. Bring on the snow, and let us relax by the fire and enjoy every moment together, counting our blessings not our hardships. Praying the beast is quickly beaten back into submission for you!

Julie said...

Great post Phil! Great attitude, great insight! Dang Myeloma... here "we" go again. Me Rev and Dex etc became reacquainted a few months ago... I started out again low dose, and will be increasing next month as I've hit a #s plateau. May your treatment journey not interrupt your beautiful life too much, and may family love and your kid's giggles outshine cancer's dark cloud. Dominate on Phil!!!!

Chris Curtis said...

Hello Phil, I am Chris Curtis. If I may recommend a Dr who has saved my life. Not telling you or anyone what to do. But maybe just to get a opinion may be helpful. He has helped many people. I recommend just chatting with him because of how he saved my life. His email is His website is Go Blue, but even bigger GOD BLESS! I am praying for you!

Chris Curtis said...

shPhil, BTW if you wish to reach me just email me at
God Bless You!

Mike said...

Well said Phil, you have been an inspiration to me since I first shared the cancer we have t fight.
But really you can afford to be selfish and angry and centred around your young family because you have given loads to others.
Dominate Sir Phil and look after you and yours xxxx

Jill M. said...

Phil, I couldn't agree more!!! So many people will start out their conversation with me complaining about something trivial and then say to me, "Look who I'm talking to, I have nothing to complain about. I'm sorry for complaining about this to you. You have much bigger problems/issues; mine are nothing." I completely agree with you that everyone has their own problems/issues. Yes some are "bigger" than others, but that doesn't make them less significant or mean that I don't want to hear about them or try to help make their day better. You just have to focus on the positive, say some prayers, and keep moving forward; however slow that might seem some days.
By the way, we love our doctor up here at Sparrow if you are ever looking for a second or third opinion. He really reminds us of Dr. J. Say hi to Dr. J for us if you are going to see him. Keep the positive attitude and lean on those around you!
Much love, Jill (Shaun's wife)

Gary Wirsing said...

Phil you are a truly amazing young man. I am proud to know you and am privileged to continue to pray for you and your family. May God hold you close. Gary

Phil Brabbs said...

Thanks everyone for posting! Reading the comments is very up lifting.
Gary W. - I can't think of you with our envisioning some negative numbers flying down from the lights of your math classroom. Talk about inspiration, you gave me the confidence that I could succeed in math, which led to an engineering degree from U of M of all places! I aced 3 out of 4 of my Calculus classes there! Many thanks!!!
Jill- You are awesome, thanks for the prayers!
Shannon- Glad he is feeling better, I want to see him (and you) again very soon!
Linda- I love you guys. You are such a strong MM fighting family, it's such a great witness.
Julie- We can do this...together!!
Chris- Thanks for the suggesions!
Mike- I love how you allow me to keep it real and be okay with processing more of the negative emotions. They are far and few between, but I do sense them from time to time and I need to be okay with that. One day I want to meet you out in your turf!
Jill M- We are kindred spirits; although our loyalty is to instate rivals :) Cassie and I look up to you guys so much in our journey. Your story brings us hope, but a reality that it's not going to be easy...but that's okay!

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