Originally Posted by Wild Idle
I have sailed dinghies all my life and chartered yachts for my holidays. My dream was always to have my own yacht as soon as I retired from a busy and hectic career and spend time exploring the Eastern Mediterranean
. Now, in my early 60s, I was nearly at the point of achieving my goal. However, this summer I received a diagnosis of myeloma - an incurable but treatable cancer. At the moment I am undergoing treatment and hope that the disease will go into remission. I am wondering if anybody on this forum has any experience of this condition and how it affected their sailing activities. Has my dream gone forever?
My mom has had multiple myeloma for ~10 years, which is what I think you mean? and based on my experience related to that, I would say it depends on a number of factors:
1. How well you respond to treatment.
2. What type of treatment it is. (Itís a lot easier to travel on oral chemo meds than if you need injections or IVs at a clinic every week or so.)
3. What symptoms you have and how they interact with your desired activities. For example, my momís primary issue has always been she gets infections easily, especially skin infections. Other people with MM have more bone involvement, which puts them at increased risk of breaking things. Neither of these mean you absolutely canít do stuff, just that you need to make a plan to minimize risk and to promptly deal with problems if they come up.
All that said, assuming the treatment itself allows for it, thereís likely no reason why you canít do SOME version of your dream, once youíve gotten your treatment dialed in and are responding well. (And there are a number of pretty good treatments now, so chances are good of finding something that you will respond well to.) You just may need to make certain allowances like being able to fly back easily for treatments on schedule, or with my mom sheís meant to be within 2-3 hours of a major medical
facility so she can start IV antibiotics promptly if needed. (She has a lot of antibiotic allergies, so someone else may have more oral options where a supply could be easily kept on board to start while heading in to get to a hospital.) Or in the case of bone involvement, perhaps a catamaran
instead of a monohull
so thereís less risk of falling, that sort of thing.
Youíll also likely need to do a bit more work
in being prepared/planning - for example when on chemo you can be more at risk of getting quite ill from things like food
poisoning, so youíll want to be extra careful with provisioning
supply. (My mom has been told not to drink well water
, for example, as it can have levels of bacteria that are fine for health
people but will make her sick.) Youíll likely also need regular blood tests even if you go into remission and donít need active treatment, just to keep an eye on things, so you may want to make arrangements to do that near where you will be cruising, those sorts of things. Also, at least while you are figuring out how the cancer behaves for you, Iíd be conservative - shorter cruises, see/contact your doctor if anything seems even possibly wrong, etc. Multiple Myeloma often doesnít get you directly, usually itís something like an infection or other complication, and things can progress more rapidly than normal because MM can make your immune system not work properly, so you generally donít want to wait and see too long before seeking medical
advice. (Again, how it presents varies from person to person, so you should get some idea of in which areas you need to be more cautious after having it for a bit, and can then adapt your plans accordingly.)
Unrelated to cruising directly, but ask your doctor about risk of clotting - both the cancer and the treatments can increase your risk of clotting, but it isnít super well known yet, so many doctors donít consider that aspect. But it may be wise for you to be on some kind of anticoagulation program, even if just daily baby aspirin, to help prevent DVTs and so on, depending on how your version of the cancer behaves. (My mom ended up in the hospital because of this with clots in her lungs, so we try to mention it now so other people know BEFORE they end up with a several day ICU stay. Sheís on anticoagulant injections daily now.)
Short version: Once you give yourself some time to get treatment dialed in and figure out exactly how the cancer behaves in you, you have a good chance of being able to do some type of cruising, though the precise vessel and length of time you can safely spend in more remote
areas may differ from your original dream due to treatment/side effects/medical access needs.
Someone in my momís support group was able to go mountain climbing on some relatively serious peak, though I canít remember which one. (Not Everest, Iíd remember that.) It just took getting the right treatment in place and then having some plans in place for if she had extra problems, like making sure the right medications would be available and that sort of thing.
Now youíre going to say itís some other type of cancer entirely.
Though I expect for many the answer is quite similar in terms of just needing to adapt plans a bit but not give them up entirely.