From time to time, I have expressed an interest in seeing a therapist. After my father died this summer, I asked my myeloma specialist at Moffitt Cancer Center, Dr. Melissa Alsina, to set-up a psychological consult for me. After five weeks they were able to fit me in; I met with Dr. Marguerite Pinard last week.
It didn’t take long for Dr. Pinard to figure out that I was suffering from a case of caregiver’s burnout. “You need to focus on something other than myeloma.” She said, wisely. I joked about how I didn’t need to see her to know that; my insightful readers recommend I “take a break” most everyday.
We spent a lot of time discussing prioritizing and how to identify what’s important in our lives. “I spend so much time with cancer patients. Sometimes I just need to get away.” She shared, telling me about her interest in ballroom dancing. Dr. Pinard has also started taking courses online. “Not for my job; for me.” She added.
Dr. Pinard stressed how important it is to find joy in our lives. As the session wound down, she suggested I make a list of non-myeloma related goals. “Don’t be afraid to experiment.” She said. “Stay open and take the time to do something that you really want to do.”
“And don’t be afraid to start something that you may not be able to finish.” She added, reminding me to not select new, exciting projects just because I thought I could finish them.
Dr. Pinard jotted down a few examples on a crumpled piece of paper. “You may be able to finish this in six months.” She noted. “But if this one is something that you’ve always wanted to do–and it brings you joy–pick this one instead.” She said, tapping her pen on the line that read, “10+ years.”
Sage advice. But I could tell that Dr. Pinard didn’t know me very well yet. If she did, she’d know that I’d pick both! “You may love writing.” She said, pausing. “And helping people. That’s all great. But I can tell you miss your old life.”
The session wasn’t what I had expected. Like me, Dr. Pinard is a problem solver. No wallowing allowed! I like that! So while I could have used a more sympathetic shoulder to cry on, I learned a lot–and gladly set a follow-up appointment for next month.
Speaking of appointments, I’m scheduled to meet with Dr. Alsina tomorrow afternoon. Time for my three month check. So far so good; my myeloma has been stable at an M-spike of 0.2 for a full year. Sub-q Velcade and dex are doing the trick. Hopefully this simple therapy keeps on working for years to come.
I’m not counting on it. Statistics say another relapse is likely on the way sometime soon. I’ll let you know what I learn on Friday.
No time to worry! It’s infusion day, I have a dinner meeting–and I need to start working on my “Joy list.” Tomorrow Dr. Ajai-Chari, from Mout Sinai Hospital in New York, is the featured guest on this month’s Myeloma Cure Panel broadcast at 6 PM Eastern.
Here’s the link if you would like to listen online:
Or you can listen on your phone by calling (718) 664-6574 anytime during the broadcast. If you can’t listen in live, I will post a link to the recorded broadcast Friday morning.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat