Up until July 3rd of this year, I thought an M & M was just a chocolate covered candy that melted in your mouth and not in your hands. Then, in June I went to my General Practitioner for a routine physical and found that I had too much protein in my blood and in my urine. So, this led to a month of testing in June. My doctor first thought that I was anemic and had kidney disease. Unfortunately, this was not true. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. It is a cancer of plasma. There is no Stage 4. A pet scan revealed that I have cancerous lesions on my skull, my ribs, my clavicles and a femur. I also have a broken rib. We are not sure how I injured it.
Please note that I am in capable healing hands with Dr. Suzanne Fanning at the Cancer Institute in Greenville, South Carolina. The treatment for Multiple Myeloma is RVD, a triple-therapy which is a cocktail of steroids, antibiotics and a cancer drug that will infused intravenously weekly, while I am at the Cancer Institute. I will also be on a daily aspirin to prevent clotting, as all as undergoing blood testing as the treatment is so toxic. However, chemotherapy and radiation is not an option for this cancer.
Most people know me as a poet and a teaching artist and this past year I have worked tirelessly especially in Greenville, SC at the Peace Center and in New Brunswick, NJ at the State Theatre. Also, I have represented the Kennedy Center as a Teaching Artist and I once again, I mentored for the National Student Poets Program. I will have an upcoming Community Impact Report which highlights my poetic journeys for 2019 in a few weeks. I am most proud of all the work that I have done this year poetically.
Note: I have traveled the country performing and teaching poetry workshops with a driven mission. I believe that poetry is a catalyst for change, empowerment and love. As a poetic warrior, I have been honored to carry this gift to others for the last twenty-seven years, though my journey has been challenged by a chronic illness: fibromyalgia.
Oddly enough, I thought I had a universal contract stipulating only one illness or cross to bear per lifetime. This belief––I am sure was born out of hope, naivety and not fully understanding the way the world really works. Needless to say, this new diagnosis has fully awakened me to the possibility that the only constant in life is change. Multiple Myeloma is now a part of my reality. Now, I am not sure how to move forward with cancer in both my blood and my bones, but I do know that I am willing to fight for not just my livelihood and my family and friends, but for my ability to live fully with poetic wings flared wide.
I am aware that as a poet and a teaching artist, I am in the position to give my time, my gifts and my love to the masses through poetry. It is really humbling to truly know that I am much more of a giver than a receiver. Yet, with this diagnosis, I find myself asking for support from friends, family and all associates who feel inspired to give to me on this Health/Healing/Writing Journey. It is unknown whether or not how much I will be able to work but is my goal to stay associated with the Peace Center and the State theatre as my health allows. Yet, I will need help with expenses: home, healthcare, alternative treatments not covered by insurance, and ongoing commitments and responsibilities to maintain my health, life and household. My goal is to take some time off so I can tend to myself. My mission is to turn this illness into wellness––to find space to be still––to allow my mind, my nerves and my heart to be in synch with nature. If you have not watched my Greenville TEDx Talk on Poetry as Healer, please do so. I still stand behind the premise that poetry saved and is saving my life. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkVYV2P8dQE. I will hopefully have time during this time to write poetry and prose really feeds my soul. You will hear of those projects soon.
Along with the treatment plan that my doctor prescribes, I will also use this time to meditate, to visualize and to manifest a whole and healthy me. This means bare feet on ground. This means Road Warrior Rest. This means asking for help. If you feel inclined or moved by me or the work that I have done––locally, regionally, nationally, internationally or galactically (smile)––please know your contribution will help make this healing season in my life possible. If you would like to make a donation, the link is above. Also know that your prayers, love, energy and well-wishes are greatly appreciated during my journey of wellness. My daughters’ Amber and Celeste Sherer have set up a Caring Bridge Site on my behalf. When you leave comments or well-wishes, know that I will read them all, but will not have the energy to respond to each one individually. Periodically, I will post an update. Thank you for your love and kindness in advance.