Let’s do this!

It all started in a corn field in Iowa.  Well, not really, but close and we’ll save that for a later post!

In 2002, a few days after my 45th birthday, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (bone marrow cancer).  Happy Birthday!  When I got the phone call from my oncologist informing me of the diagnosis, I had learned just enough about Myeloma to ask “what stage was it?”  When he told me it was stage 3, I said “well that’s not so bad, what out of 10?”  To which he replied “no, out of 3.”  Well, I thought that was hilarious and cracked myself up.  I think that was the point that I became good friends with my oncologist.

Multiple Myeloma is not a particularly cheery cancer.  It is a terminal cancer with no known cure – YET!  At the time I was told that I would be lucky to live three years.  After some pretty intense treatments (more of that in later posts) including a stem cell transplant using my own “cleaned up” stem cells, I am now going on 16 years being pretty much Myeloma-free.  And for the most part they have been GREAT years.

That is, except for the year and a half starting on November 30, 2016 when my oncologist informed me that I had a full blown case of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  He told me I had to go into the hospital the next day where I would be for a month starting my intense treatments.  I said “come on, really? Drop everything and go in for the month of December?”  He told me that if I didn’t, I would be gone in two weeks.  Well, guess who dropped everything and went into the hospital the next day?  Merry Christmas!

I’ll talk more about the cause and treatments for my Leukemia in some later posts, but suffice to say it was a heck of a lot tougher than my Myeloma treatments.  It included another stem cell transplant, this time using my brother Kyle’s donated stem cells (love that Kyle!!!) and a much longer and tougher recovery period.  The good news is I am now 14 months post transplant and at this point there are no signs of Leukemia in me!  While they are all very happy, I don’t think my doctors quite know what to do with me.

Anyway, as most cancer patients who are undergoing treatments know, “see you in thirty days” is usually the time between appointments.  You have thirty days to worry about if the other shoe is going to drop, or you can try to live your life.  Learning how to live your life in thirty day increments is a process and it takes awhile to move through it and get to the point where you can accept your situation and strive to make the best of it.

Hopefully my experiences can be an encouragement to others, and my crazy life can add a few laughs along the way.

PS: Please add comments as you feel like it, and subscribe to this blog.  Or you can bookmark the page address and come back later to check out any new posts! Thanks!

11 Replies to “Let’s do this!”

  1. Well, a blog from the strongest man I know ( full transparency, he’s my brother) keep doing what you do, bro. We all love you and are right behind you!

  2. Hey Keith‼️
    My friend from Neverland ✨??‍♀️✨
    First let me say I’m so sorry you and your wonderful family has had to cope with this Terrible Disease!
    That said, your intestinal fortitude and positivity are an inspiration to all of us.
    My older brother
    ( Who reminds me of you) was just re-diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
    I will share your blog. Thank you my friend.
    Love and lovely thoughts to you and your family. ??‍♀️✨?

    1. Thank you, Cathy! I will be keeping your brother in my prayers.
      Just the other day I was playing the YouTube video of you performing “I’m Flying” for my 2 year old grandson on my lap. And of course he was mesmerized! As we all were! ❤️

  3. Sir Stava,

    We first met in the Spring of 2005…. at the Virginia Stage Company

    Following the performance we visited, for quite some time, just sitting in the theatre. Theatre people can be very open about discussing all things. Yet, I was still surprised & touched about your openness in discussing your serious malady.

    Since that time I am honored to call you a valued Friend. I respect your courage in facing this great battle. I am amazed at your positive attitude.

    I think that translates to your Blog. It gives you a forum for self-expression. It also serves as a source that I am confident is helping others with their daunting battle.

    Love you for that!

    White Lite to you. – MICHAEL B

  4. You are AMAZING Keith Stava! Brett and I are so glad to hear that you have almost hit the 2 yr target date. Your blog is fabulous. You are truly an inspiration to EVERYONE! Love ya!

  5. Hello Keith… Do you ever have days when you think about the people you knew several lifetimes ago and wondered how they are doing?? Well, I was thinking of you and decided to Google you – and this is what I’ve found… I can’t begin to tell you how much I admire your tenacity and humor, though I am sure there have been days when you have felt just the opposite. I hope this message finds you in better health and continuing your zest for life.

    Do know that all is well on my side … my life has been very good. I’m married (his name is Keith – which is why I think of you every now and then!) and have a lovely daughter…

    Anyway, I wish only the best for you…

    From a person you knew from high school!! Mary Jo (Fensler) Hoffman

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