I live in The Villages,Fl and was diagnosed on December 5,2005.

Treatment:
VAD
Transplant 2006
Velcade 2010
Velcade sub que in July of 2012
Revlimid – in March of 2014

They say a positive attitude is helpful in fighting cancer. I believe it is a must in life!

I was a sales manager for Little Debbie Snack Cakes. I traveled day and night to make sure the cakes were selling. They’re a wonderful company, family-held and just about as sweet as the product. They even created a job for me that allowed me to build my retirement house in The Villages, in Florida, and go on working for them.

I was 59. The kids were grown. I was getting back in the game . . .

Then I went in for a routine physical with my PCP, or so I thought. He told me my protein was running high and that there was a very serious cancer called Multiple Myeloma and I should see a Hematologist.

I can still remember the window in that doctor’s office, the one I was staring out he told me I had cancer—and not just any cancer, but one that only gave me only 2-to-5 years to live. I hadn’t even retired yet!

“You gotta be kidding me!” I said, “this can’t be happening to me, I feel fine”

But it was. I had multiple myeloma. And not much hope at the time. That was a pretty good wallop to my mental health, I can tell you!

But I’m a very positive person. I decided to face whatever came my way, head on. And to keep up with my treatment.

That was in 2005. So at first, I went on the older treatments. They made me very sick. I had infections. Was in and out of hospitals. Then I went for an autologous stem cell transplant in the spring of 2006 And boy, that knocked the stuffing out of me as well. All I can say is, “Thank God for Ruby, my wife!”

When I came out of remission, they put me on Velcade in 2010.

And then I really got back in the game.

You see, what a lot of people don’t know about The Villages is that it’s a mecca for softball. We have 3,000 softball players and about 250 teams. We have five levels of divisions! Some Major league-rs retire there just so they can play competitively again. We have many Senior Softball Hall of Famers. And many of our players meet up again for the with guys they’d played competitively against for many years! It’s our own field of dreams.

Before I got cancer, I was a Division 1 player. I was batting .600 and could hit the ball 300 feet. But after the transplant, I couldn’t walk to 1st base, let alone play it. I used to go out to the softball diamond, alone, at night, when no one could see me. I’d stand at the foul line and try to throw a ball to the dugout fence (about 15’). At first, I couldn’t even do that. But I came back, night after night. And once I hit the dugout, I backed up. And kept throwing.

I knew I had made it back was when I won the Division batting title in the summer of 2007, exactly one year after transplant with a 630 average.

And in 2012, I’m happy to say, I was player of the year! And batting .588. By that time, I’d moved onto Velcade subcutaneous. That’s even better! It’s just a little shot. Once a week! It hardly interferes with my schedule, which is good because today, I’m on three teams! I play for Softballs-R-Game, the Ripkens and I’m manager of the Marlins. We just finished our regular season and finished 2nd. By the way, we’re constantly scouting new talent. We have a draft three times a year and I can get you in the next draft. So if any of you play ball or golf and are thinking of moving to The Villages, come find me after the presentation.)

There’s no question in my mind, Velcade has helped me get back to softball. And I’m back to my golf game as well. After transplant, I couldn’t play more than a couple of holes before tiring. I remember sulking in the golf cart one day, when Ruby announced she wasn’t going to play with me any more.

“Why?” I asked, surprised.

“Do you realize where you’ve come from?” she said, “You almost died! And you’re worried about a little game?”

I’d been a pretty good golfer with a five handicap. But she was right. How I golfed didn’t matter. It was being able to play at all. Now we play a couple of times a week. I’m doing things I never would have dreamed to be possible after my first treatments. And perhaps even more miraculous: I don’t get mad on the golf course any more! Well, just maybe a little aggravated!

Another big part of how I live my life is the IMF. We have a new group that’s just gotten started at The Villages. We’re only three months old and already up to 15 people!

But it was when I first walked into an IMF support group meeting, years ago, that I had real hope for the first time. You see, I learned that myeloma is such an individual disease. Everyone’s on a different regimen. There are so many options.

So many new treatments have come out since I was diagnosed in 2005. And these days, they’re so good, you sometimes can’t tell the patients from the caregivers! It gives you hope that even if we can’t cure myeloma, maybe we’ll be able to treat it like a chronic disease, like diabetes. So you’re always looking ahead to see what might be next. On-line there’s a lot of information, but so much of it’s crazy. The IMF helps you sort out the good from the bad, and it tells you about the clinical trials that are going on, so you can stay ahead of the game. It’s a trusted source.

It also teaches you that you’ve got to be involved in your own treatment. The doctor is the leader. He’s the one who went to school. But you’ve got to come in ready to make decisions. Your Doctor is your partner. The IMF keeps you informed on what’s out there, so you can take an active role in your treatment decisions.

Last month, Ruby and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. But today’s another important anniversary. It’s been 8 years and two days since I got my diagnosis. And just yesterday my team played in the second round of the playoffs. While I was driving up I was with my team in spirit! Although I’m a competitive guy, I’m here to say it doesn’t really matter who won; its playing in the spirit of the game that counts. And just like with myeloma, you’ve got to keep on swinging.

— Daniel L.

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