We lost a great American hero today, Colin Powell. A man with a good heart. Yes, I believe that he made one big mistake when he spoke for the Bush (George W) administration in its asinine decision to invade Iraq, but I believe he did this out of his ideals of loyalty to the president and patriotism. Still a mistake.
With that said, for us Multiple Myeloma patients, his story has put our disease on center stage for a few days at least, and it is from that angle I wanted to make some comments. I have to be careful because this is one of my steroid nights, or should I say mornings, because it is 2 a.m. and I’m probably up for the day. But in this state I sometimes say things that I regret the next day. Not that they were not true, but in order to not offend, there are plenty of things we shouldn’t say. To try and keep this brief, I will use bullet statements from my observations throughout the day (I was hooked to an IV in the hospital for most of they day and had time to sit and watch the news … and edit my book).
- If you have not heard, Colin died from complications from COVID. Yes, he was vaccinated, having received the Pfizer vaccine in Jan and Feb of 2021. He was due for his booster when he came down with the disease. It was revealed that he was also fighting multiple myeloma. His illness and death are not surprising because, like us with MM, the vaccine is only about 45% beneficial because our cancer is a cancer of the immune system. He also had other risk factors of age and race. For the rest of you, the vaccines are about 80-95% in preventing bad disease and death. It is a little frustrating for us with these types of risk factors and others, for political reasons, take no precaution about killing us. It is me-centric. I wear a mask so that I don’t spread it to anyone else.
- I am glad that Colin has put Multiple Myeloma on the map (sorry he had the disease), but I say that with a caveat. MM is a very broad spectrum of diseases, affecting patients in very different ways. From what I’ve read, Colin was on the lucky end, as many are, where their MM is discovered via routine blood tests and before it causes many symptoms. Then there are the 25% of us for whom the disease starts with destroyed kidneys. The mortality rate for us is quite high, with a mean survival rate of about 11 months. I am going on my third year since the disease started. Living in renal failure for three months before diagnosis also caused a significant neurological damage from which I’ve never fully recovered. I am thankful that I am where I am, only nuisance symptoms now, whereas the first year was unbearable. Then there are those who start MM with fractures. The fracture can be simple. I knew a patient that went out for a jog and broke his clavicle, and then was diagnosed. But I also know another patient that her first symptom was bending over to pick up a bar of soap in the shower and fractured her neck, causing her to be a paraplegic. I also knew of a wife of a patient, she was part of our online support group, whose husband’s skull had become like an egg shell and he was suffering multiple skull fractures from rolling over in bed. He was on hospice with powerful pain killers, yet a previous stoic man was reduced to screams and crying throughout the day and night. He died soon afterwards. So, it is a disease that can get quite ugly. I have many friends with this and other forms of cancer from which they suffer terribly. They are superheroes in their fight. This made it hard for me to continue being part of that support group. You had lots of people on the good end, diagnosis on paper but virtually no symptoms, who were climbing mountains, running marathons, and travelling the world. I could not compare myself to them. But then you had those on the other end, enduring unbelievable suffering and on their way out of this world. I had to leave.
- More for the arsenals for the anti-vaxers. I’ve heard on the news that the anti-vaxer movement has capitalized on the Colin death to promote their false narrative that the COVID vaccine is not helpful … even dangerous. This it a total fabrication. The vaccine is about 1 million times safer than the disease, and eventually you will have one or the other. This is the sad fact. I will be clear and brief on this, trying to avoid diving into a political rabbit hole. Trumpism isn’t a political movement or just a personality. It is a cult in the same sense as Jim Jones was a cult. This movement, and its disciples, promote a reality that is nowhere close to real reality. It has taken over most of the Republican party and the white evangelical church, turning them both into “me-first” systems of thinking. For some bizarre reason, and I think it is because Donald rightly saw the COVID pandemic as a treat to his re-election, promoted the dogma that COVID wasn’t serious, that there were cures that were being hidden (hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin) by the big bad pharma or liberals or whoever, that masks don’t work and wearing one is a sign of not being a true Trumpism disciple (they call it “freedom”) and certainly are against vaccinations (while privately getting them). Over 1.3 billion doses of the vaccines have been given world wide and close records have been kept about side effects and risks. They are remarkably safe. Yet, the false narrative generating world of Trumpism is lying about this, saying that many have been harmed or killed by the vaccine and those numbers are being suppressed by the boogie man I guess. It saddens me because of these lies, hundreds of thousands of dear people, people whom God loves, have suffered and died needlessly. I bet an unvaccinated, un mask-wearing person gave COVID to Colin.
- In all fairness, there are “ism” of cult like behavior on the political left as well. I share this just so people don’t think I have these views of the Trump cult as political. I was a republican for most of my life, mostly with views of balancing the budget (which they no long give a rat’s ass about) and personal responsibility (which after Jan 6 the right made it clear they don’t give a rat’s ass about). I will never have a party favorite now because I’ve watch how willing my fellow republicans have boarded the Trump train without any moral reservations. I never want to be put into that spot. But, as I was saying, yes on the left science can also be suppressed too when it identifies or wants to discuss differences in sexes and races. There are real physiological differences that have meaning and not all are racist or sexist. “Cancel culture” does go too far at times. The right way overstates this, but it has some real basis. Also, I heard one liberal commentator saying that looting and violence was an act of the freedom of speech and served a good purpose. Not true, just as choosing to not get vaccinated or not wearing a mask is an act of freedom. No, it is an act of adolescent me-first mentality. Regarding protests, Martin Luther King nailed it. Peaceful resistance to racism. Racism is real and must be resisted. I’m rambling, good night.
Which brings me back to Colin. Thankyou General Powell for your service to your country. You made blacks, men, Americans, and all of humanity proud.