Terry, thanks for starting this thread, Lew, great post too, and Cat Frak - this is all making me think - not sure I have anything of value to add but am compelled to contribute anyway
My journey is also a little circuitous...I was diagnosed with bladder cancer at the age of 30 (this is know as an 'old man's disease'). I was lucky in a way, I knew enough to force doctors to take me seriously 'cos I knew something was wrong, so I was diagnosed relatively early. I have a T1 grade II tumour removed - not a pleasant operation...The treatment of choice was installing diluted BCG (the vaccine against TB) into the bladder to cause the lining to blister and peel, be inflammed, and in theory, get rid of any lingering cancer cells. Please be patient - this is going somewhere...I had had a Mantoux test for TB while working in a rural hospital in Africa (they inject a small amount of live TB bacterium under th eskin to se how you react, see if you have the disease or need a vaccine) and I had reacted quite violently to it. I mentiond this to my Oncologist as I was worried my bladder might react just as violently if she put that stuff in there, so she did another Mantoux test...Holy shit, that was bad. I reacted so badly, my whole arm was swollen with cellulitis, I had a fever of 41C, swollen lymph nodes, joint pain, rash, massive blister on the underside of my forarm where the injection was done - I still have a bd scar there today...Anyway, turns out I am hyper-immune to TB (consensus of several Prof's at the medical school) and the bladder installations would have killed me. I had chemo instead. 6 months of it. I read another post where someone quoted another person as saying that cancer is easier to deal with than ms because there is an end to it. Maybe so. But you know, I go into hospital every 6 months for biopsies of my bladder and I sweat blood while waiting for those results - and it has been 10 years, so not sure when it will end. No serious illness is easier than any other, they all have their challenges - at 30, I was faced with the prospect of having my bladder and uterus, ovaries, everything removed, even possible death if the treatment did not work - bladder cancer recurrs so frequently, you see. I was lucky that an op and 6 months of chemo got rid of it, but I live with it hanging over my head every day. Every time I pee, I look in the toilet, terrified of seeing blood there...It all sucks.
First thing I learned, always tell your doctors if something is bothering you, force them to listen if you have to - your life may depend on it.
Less than 2 years later, I presented with L'Hermittes. Told my Onco about it during a routine check up. She was worried about metastatic disease - a recurrance and spread to the spine, and referred me to a neuro for that. I was examined - had very brisk, and I mean very brisk, reflexes, could not lift my feet up enough to walk on my heels, my rt side was weaker than my left, I had some patches of numbness, and the L'Hermittes, which was the only one I was aware of. So, after MRI's & lumbar puncture - ms was diagnosed. Mostly cervical.
I remain convinced that my repeated and increasingly severe reaction to that bacteria somehow fu@ked up my immune system and triggered my ms...
I concur with Lew - I also have learned to take the best care of my body that I can. It is the only thing I can do that might somehow help, other than take all the medication the doctors prescribe, which I do, of course...I went on to have 2 children that I nevr thought I would have, they are a gift and a delight, and they teach me every day to see the wonder in the world.
I have learned that sometimes there are no answers, but I still ask the questions - you never know
I have learned that life is short.
I am learning right now that I am a walking (mostly) cliche and probably full of shit.
Guys, it is 3 am for me, I have had less than 4 hours sleep in 2 days, and I hope anyone who reads this has learned that patience is a virtue, as is kindness, and applies those lessons whilst reading my completely pointless (as it turned out) post