Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Good Am I?

Sunday December 13, 2009. University of California at San Francisco.  Sue's back in the hospital here, and I am reacquainting myself with some of my old friends, like Ms. Blood-bot.  I said I was done blogging but as they say, never say never.

A month ago Sue had scheduled a routine follow-up exam with Dr. Wolf for Friday, December 11. It turned out to not be routine. About a week ago Sue started experiencing pain in her lower back again. By Thursday night Sue was experiencing extreme pain in her lower back and increased neuropathy pain and weakness in all four extremities (feet and hands). She was discouraged, in a lot of pain, and emotionally wrought.

Until recently Sue had been doing very well, so I booked one of our favorite Christmas vacation spots, the Grand Hyatt at Union Square.  Union Square at Christmas is usually festive. This weekend it was rainy and cold.  While we managed to squeeze in a nice late dinner Thursday night with David Carico and his friend, Rhonda, at Zuni's Cafe on Market Street, Sue was uncomfortable the whole evening.  Sue did not sleep much on Thursday night.  She paced around and cried a lot.  Some of the crying was from the pain, and some was from the emotional stuff, mostly unspoken and inferred by me:  Why me?  Why now?  I was getting better.  I was planning to go back to work in January and get back on with my life.  I can't keep doing this.  It isn't fair.

So on Friday she was also quite exhausted, both physically and emotionally. As we sat in the exam room at 500 Parnasus, waiting for Dr. Wolf, a young woman walked by with an older man. Normally the exam room doors are closed, but this time it was open.  The young woman looked at Sue, stopped, backed up, approached the room and said, to Sue, "You're my oh my myeloma, aren't you?" My Oh My Myeloma is Sue's blog "handle." The young lady, I'll call her "SFL" for San Francisco Lady, had recognized Sue from her blog. SFL had been reading myeloma blogs because her father had been diagnosed with myeloma.  SFL's father had a stem cell transplant at UCSF just after Sue had hers, and so Sue's blog (and mine) about her STC experience was of particular interest to SFL. SFL's father doesn't speak english, so she has been his primary assistant through all of his medical treatments.

Sue was delighted and encouraged by our brief encounter with SFL and her father. We had but the briefest hint of the struggles SFL was going through.  She was in college at another UC campus, she'd said, and it was hard for her to concentrate on her studies.  Further, she really didn't have anyone to talk to about her situation.  SFL is from a private family and from a private culture where talking about such things is not usual.  Just the day before she had decided to start a blog. 

We have been extremely blessed by the many caring friends we've encountered on Sue's cancer journey.  Our blogs have brought us in contact with many good people outside our normal circles.  We've developed friends and prayer partners throughout the world.  You blog readers have been a community for us.

Sometimes when you are knocked down you think thoughts like, "I'm broken.  My life is over.  What good am I?"  There are times of experiencing sadness and loss.  We had prayed for God to show us what good could come from Sue's cancer experience, that is, what good we could do.

We don't think our encounter with SFL was a chance encounter.  We think it was an answer to our prayer. SFL's blog is titled: A Daughter's Perspective, and can be found at:

I invite you to read SFL's blog and then to join Sue and me in being in community with her.  I specifically invite you to pray for SFL and her family.


  1. Hey George,
    A most godly, sacred, holy thing is happening. Yesterday at church I asked for prayer requests (for joys or concerns), as I always do before the Prayers of the People. In the midst of the dozen or so names that came, I almost missed someone who said, "your cousin". We hadn't specifically mentioned Sue for a while - given that I'd reported that she was doing better. I was struck - awestruck, I guess you'd say at the request.

    Then, this morning I noticed that there were new posts on both blogs & discovered the most recent news.

    God moves in such remarkable ways to build community and support. Tell Sue we prayed for her yesterday, lifting her up before God in our thoughts & prayers, without specifically knowing why. God puts others in our prayers when they need it - thank God. Prayers continue -

    I hope Don's recovering.


  2. Hi George,
    Thanks for sharing an awesome story. You're right. The encounter with SFL was no accident. It helped her. It helped you. Sometimes just the briefest of encounters can make all the a day...or a life.
    Hang in there and tell everyone hello.
    Sheri Snively

  3. January 7th, 2010 greetings, George & Sue,
    I decided not to read every blog in the order you wrote them...but rather to skip up to those posted in December and to add this comment after reading about your encounter with SFL. I call these "consequential strangers" and remain truly amazed at how, (if given a chance)...they can BOTH affect AND effect us. Your long-lost cousin, Barbara