Yesterday I sat in the middle of the garden pulling weeds. (I cannot bend over or squat anymore.) I am not supposed to work in the dirt because I might inhale opportunistic infection agents such as aspergillus, So I held my breath for thirty minutes. (I have had some practice in breath-holding in the past few weeks). The intruders had overtaken the garden in a dense mat of intertwined interlopers. However, I soon found that one weed in particular was the source of the majority of the mass. It had spread its metastatic tentacles over a 1 square meter of space, occasionally shooting feeders down into the soil. I slowly separated this mess from the other weeds and drip system only to find it attached to the earth through one tiny stalk. I carefully pulled up on the stalk and, of course, it snapped leaving an equally elaborate root system below. We delude ourselves as we then look at the bare garden with pride; for the lurking roots our just waiting to return. I decided to rename my diease, amyloidosis, 'weeds'.
Somehow it feels the same. The tentacles of aberrant proteins choke off the good organs to prevent their normal function. I can 'Round Up' these invading plasma cells with drugs like Revlimid or Velcade. But there is always the risk of simultaneously killing off the good fruits of normal tissues. At one point I thought, "Only an atomic blast would annihilate this unyielding root system, similarly, a complete stem cell transplant might accomplish the same goal. Alas, these buggers are sneaky as it only takes one lone survivor to perpetuate the population. So we survive by occasionally trimming back the weeds to at least temporarily provide sufficient light, water and nutrients to the life giving plants that nourish us as we nourish them.
I took two months off from chemotherapy and felt wonderful, but the weeds grew and my light chains went over 160. After one course of Revlimid/Decadron/Cytoxan they have decreased to 130, but with the price of fatigue and malaise. But, the garden continues to grow and, with faith, this will be a very productive this year.