Living with Myeloma as a Young Couple

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Matthew and his wife Kate openly discuss how they keep a positive attitude by making sure cancer doesn't run their lives. They starting dating shortly after Matthew was diagnosed with myeloma at the age of 25. Starting a relationship while managing a new diagnosis made Kate realize how her love for Matthew far exceeded her fear of the unknown. Kate's motto is "you can't live your life waiting for the other shoe to fall." They express the importance of engaging in everyday activities, not completely focusing on the cancer diagnosis. Today Matthew and Kate are happily married and look forward to what the future holds. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Matthew, you were diagnosed with what’s often thought as an old person’s disease.  How did you get your head around that and get past it? 

Matthew Hare:

Yeah, I was in the intensive care unit when I was diagnosed, so I didn’t have a traditional, you-have-cancer moment.  I was battling pneumonia when I got my diagnosis, so I probably had to come to grips with that a couple weeks later when I was more on my own, and it was tough, but I went through the grieving process where I thought, how did this happen, to being more headstrong and saying, this is what’s going on but now we have to deal with it.  So it was more of I had this defiant moment where it wasn’t going to run my life.  I was going to run what was going on, and it wasn’t going to be the cancer running me. 

Andrew Schorr:

All right.  Let’s talk to the two of you.  Kate is sitting next to you.  You’ve been married a year and you’re saying cancer is not going to run your life and it’s very natural for people your age to say let’s get married.  Maybe if we want we’ll start a family, but there’s this sort of thing that’s back there.  Kate, you went ahead with the man you love.  Did you feel it took courage? 

Kate Hare:

Yeah, I mean, a little bit.  I remember I had a moment that it was just like I would rather be with him than risk not ever having any time with him at all, do you know what I mean?  And his nurse practitioner gave me really good advice.  And she said, you can’t live your life waiting for the other shoe to fall, and I was like you’re right.  I don’t want to live my life like that, so, I mean, he was perfect for me, cancer or no cancer, so I was like what the hell. 

Andrew Schorr:

So, Matt, you work at the James Cancer Center here.

Matthew Hare:

Yes. 

Andrew Schorr:

And you get to talk to the doctors and researchers and I’m sure come home and talk to Kate about things you’re learning.  How encouraged are you about the future? 

Matthew Hare:

I have a completely positive outlook now.  I don’t concern myself with it coming back or dealing with it again just because I know that there are people working so hard around the clock to make therapies that allow people to deal with this disease until there is a cure for it.  I know that while a cure may not be right around the corner there’s drugs that are going to prolong lives to get to that cure.  I feel that cancer is something that thrives on fear, and alone that’s when it hits you the hardest is when you’re fearful.  And I think that because of the work that’s being done now it’s hopeful, just try to live my life that way and know that there’s great work going on in this field. 

Andrew Schorr:

You know that there are some people, the minority, who are young diagnosed with myeloma.  What would you say to them? 

Matthew Hare:

To get involved.  You have to be your own advocate.  I think, surrounding yourself with people that are doing things like MMORE and things like Patient Power and being involved.  You surround yourself with people who know what’s going on in the field, and I think that’s hugely important to make your own point of view, feel a little more positive and just being around those types of people. 

Andrew Schorr:

Kate, you are married to a thousand watt light bulb, aren’t you.  You must find him inspiring. 

Kate Hare:

Yes, even when he was sick that was one of the really drawing things to him, that I put myself in his shoes, and I was like I don’t think that I would be this positive, and I would probably be that person that would say why did this happen to me, and he never did that.  It was almost as if he wasn’t sick.  When he went to go get treatment and would go to physical therapy appointments it was just like this other thing that was happening in his life.  It was like nothing.  Everything else just kind of went on and it was inspiring, definitely. 

Andrew Schorr:

Kate, what would you say to a spouse, young, in the middle, or older, do you have some advice on how to support your loved one? 

Kate Hare:

I think it’s just important—I know for me like we try not to focus so much, and like Matt said, don’t let it run your life.  It definitely is hard, but we just continue doing normal things that we would have done anyways, and we didn’t let it get us down.  We were kind of in the beginning of our relationship at that point.  We spent a lot of time just hanging out and watching stupid television shows and doing puzzles and things like that.  We just tried to stay positive, and we didn’t really talk about it all the time.  Definitely it was happening.  I mean, for me, I didn’t really focus on it until after everything was all fine. 

Andrew Schorr:

Transplant—

Kate Hare:

Right. 

Andrew Schorr:

—after that.  Matt, so you’ve had a transplant. 

Matthew Hare:

Mm-hmm. 

Andrew Schorr:

You’re not taking medicine now. 

Matthew Hare:

Correct. 

Andrew Schorr:

But you don’t know that you’re cured. 

Matthew Hare:

Right. 

Andrew Schorr:

How do you view the future? 

Matthew Hare:

I really don’t worry about it.  I’m at a point now to where I’ve dealt with it once.  If it comes back we’ll deal with it again.  I’m focusing in my job and things that I do on my own time, of making sure things are progressing in this disease and in cancer in general, I’m trying not to worry about it.  I always tell my doctor, I mess around with him and say, you tell me when to worry about this and that’s when I’ll worry about it. 

But when it does come back, if it does come back, we just go to work again.  We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again, and like Kate said, I always had to talk about cancer at appointments and things like that and just in my free time I try not to worry about it.  It’s there.  It’s always there.  It’s always in the back of my mind.  I go to my appointments every three months and, I have a little bit of a white coat syndrome when I go to those appointments, but other than that I don’t concern myself with it too much. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on December 19, 2013