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Big Sis In Burgundy: Looking Ahead

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Published: Jan 16, 2012 3:11 pm

Today, my husband Peter and I plan to “undecorate,” our household term for putting all the Christmas finery away.  It’s a bittersweet occasion, as I am one obsessed with the Christmas tree.  I take great joy in looking at our ornaments, so many of which hold very happy memories.

This year in particular I enjoyed placing the ornaments my sister Deana and I collected in December 1998, when she accompanied me on a work trip to Vienna, Budapest, Prague, and Munich.  We visited numerous Christmas markets in these cities – it was charming beyond description, like a fairy tale.

For those loyal readers who are wondering why our sister Darrie was not with us, fear not.  Darrie is not the traveler that Deana and I are.  She doesn’t like long flights and does not share her sisters’ interest in seeing the world.  We brought her many souvenirs, and she was perfectly fine with that.

I share this memory because now that Deana, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last April, is heading toward remission, I’m beginning to think about trips we’ll take.  She wants to go to Chicago, we’ve talked briefly about heading to Durham in July for the Duke Multiple Myeloma Ride, there’s the Marine Corps Marathon in October … and most importantly, she’ll turn the big 4-0 on May 5.  It is my intention to have a party and perhaps a trip to follow … although Deana has not agreed to any of this just yet.

It will be a pleasure to have you along for all our adventures to come.  In the last week, Deana and I have both learned that we have more friends and followers out there than we knew.

On Saturday, January 7, I attended a meeting of the Atlanta area multiple myeloma support group, at the suggestion of its outstanding president, Nancy Bruno.  I could devote an entire column to just how super Nancy is.  Full of life and energy, she’s an uplifting person to be around.  I am so pleased to have met her at a myeloma seminar I attended in November.  There were a few others at this meeting who I met back in November, and it was great to reconnect with them as well.  In particular, I want to acknowledge the Lopez family.  I am deeply touched by their commitment to each other – they all attended the November seminar (which was a full-day affair), and they all attended the support group meeting.  I am inspired being in their presence.

Special thanks go to Sandy, a 22-year survivor, diagnosed in 1989 at age 46.  When Sandy shared her experience with me, I asked if she wouldn’t mind reaching out to Deana.  She was kind enough to give Deana a call the following day, and I know Deana was bolstered by this conversation.  While none of us would have elected to be battling this disease, the support and encouragement found within the myeloma community is truly a source of strength.

When Nancy asked me to share my story, I was surprised to learn that several members in attendance were reading Big Sis in Burgundy, and they were most complimentary about this column.  That positive feedback carried me through a very difficult afternoon, where I spent time with one of my dearest friends, whose husband is at the end of his six-year cancer battle.   To quote the button Nancy gave me – Cancer Sucks!

The highlight of my week, though, was a call I got from Deana on Wednesday morning.  She had attended her myeloma support group meeting the night before.  It sounds like this was the first actual meeting she has been to, although I know she participated in a social event prior to her stem cell transplant.

Apparently, she had rock star status from the moment she walked in, as a result of numerous members who are readers of this column and who have further followed us on CaringBridge.  Deana shared many wonderful comments with me from those who let her know how much they have enjoyed being on this journey with us.  When asked if she thought I might be willing to attend a future meeting of this group as a guest speaker, Deana responded, “Absolutely!” (She may have said something further about my never passing up an opportunity for an audience too … )

So, it looks like I’ll be taking this show on the road.  I am delighted and excited.

Most importantly, I thank you for taking time from your lives to spend time with us.  We remain incredibly grateful for the words of support and encouragement received.

Deborah Dietzler is a columnist at The Myeloma Beacon. Her sister Deana has multiple myeloma.

If you are interested in writing a regular column to be published by The Myeloma Beacon, please contact the Beacon team at .

Photo of Deborah Dietzler (center), biweekly columnist at The Myeloma Beacon, and her sisters Deana (left) and Darrie (right).
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  • Nancy S. said:

    Thanks for your sunny and cheerful columns, Deborah! Have a great year with your sister and family...the big 4-0! At that age was also involved with my young daughters, and that was such a special time! Kids keep you young!

  • Lori Puente said:

    As you have already experienced, you meet the most amazing treasures in this MM journey. Jan B. calls them her "Myeloma Blessings".