by Michael Riotto
This year, I will happily turn 61 and celebrate, yes, celebrate the 10th year of my diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma(MM). Has it been easy? Not a chance! Has it been tough? You bet! Has it closed a whole lotta doors? Absolutely! HOWEVER, having this diagnosis has brought me to an entirely new place in mind, body, and soul. Having MM has opened many more doors than it has closed.
How you ask?
My journey through the maze of chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, broken bones, stem cell transplant, and way more has taught me to be RESILIENT, to be POSITIVE, to be HOPEFUL, to be THANKFUL, to be GRACIOUS, and so APPRECIATIVE of everything LIFE has to offer.
POSITIVE…One must always choose positivity. Is it easy? No! Can it be done? Yes! Will it have an immense impact on your physical and mental wellbeing? Sure thing!
HOPEFUL…There is no cure for MM yet, but 14 new therapies have been approved since I was diagnosed 10 years ago. I am so hopeful for a cure.
THANKFUL…for everything and everyone in my life. Thankful that I am able to share my MM journey through the Multiple Myeloma Journey Partners program and inspire HOPE to my fellow MM patients.
GRACIOUS…and humble for the years of support from family and friends. Especially my wonderful wife, Monique, with her by my side and championing everything to make my life better!
APPRECIATIVE…for all life has to offer. Appreciative that I am still here 10 years later to write this when the average MM patient does not live past 5 years.
RESILIENT…Probably the most important one of the bunch. One has to wake up each day and be all of the above – thankful, hopeful, and grateful that the Lord has granted them another day. Part of being resilient is setting GOALS for oneself. The goals can be as simple as taking a walk today and seeing the daffodils bloom. Then they also need to be bigger like seeing a daughter and son graduate high school, and then college. Maybe even see them get married and have grandchildren! Seeing Theo graduate college this year is a HUGE goal – the 10-year mark! Then we set another goal to see grad school accomplished and then another goal – Christina gets married. And then a long shot..grandkids! Ha! However, you have to strive each day to be here and enjoy all life has to offer.
Does the MM throw you curves and bumps? Yes. I can’t reach my left shoulder above my head, two broken feet in 2020, fear of Covid and dying as a blood cancer patient, taking dozens of meds each day. HOWEVER, in the end, that is all small stuff in the bigger picture called life.
Those doors, yes, they open and close. However, the doors that open lead to new relationships, newly adopted family, and incredible friends. This wonderful group of people is caring, loving, and incredibly supportive of your life. Wouldn’t be the same without them.
So, in the end, cancer does suck; however, it does take you on this incredible journey that I will be resilient to keep on going till I reach the next goal and the next and the next.
Michael is 61 years old, lives In Jamison, Bucks County, PA. He is married to a wonderful wife and caregiver, Monique for 32 years. Has two children, Christina 29 who lives in Doylestown, and Theodore, 22, who attends Lehigh University.
Michael had virtually no symptoms of his blood cancer multiple myeloma until a tumble in the waves at the beach resulted in a compression fracture in his neck, this began his journey with MM. Michael was 51 years old at the time of diagnosis. After many months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, Michael obtained remission in early 2012 and has been in active observation remission ever since.
His advice is, “Remember that life is great and that there’s always a silver lining – you just have to find it! Every day I wake up, “I’m a happy man.”