Myeloma Song

Lots of people, perhaps most people!, associate specific songs with important moments in their lives. You see this happen all the time in movies: first dance, first kiss, first driving lesson, first camping trip, first stubbed toe, first whatever. Songs played at weddings are a typical example. Well, Stefano and I don’t have a specific song. Of course, we both LOVE music, from classical to jazz and so on, but our love story is not tied to any particular song. I do have, however, a specific song tied to a specific moment in my life: when I learned what MGUS really meant the potential consequences

At some point in 2003 my GP finally gave me a gentle but detailed explanation concerning the monoclonal component that had showed up in my bloodstream since 1999, informing me that my still-benign MGUS could some day progress to a malignant incurable cancer.

Malignant. Incurable. Cancer.

Well, I remember being very calm and collected when I received this lovely bit of news in his office. I asked him a few questions, took his written request for me to have a check-up at the Hematology Center at Careggi Hospital in Florence, thanked him as usual and left. I got into my car, turned on the radio, and burst into tears (I still get emotional when I think back to that moment). Just then, though, the radio station began playing a song by Cat Stevens called Father and Son. I began listening to the lyrics and stopped crying. I later read that it was a song about lonely childhoods and the Russian Revolution (not the Myeloma Revolution), but never matter. Here are the relevant, to me, lyrics (I took out several lines, e.g. find a girl, settle down etc.):

Father: It’s not time to make a change, Just relax, take it easy. There’s so much you have to know. I know that it’s not easy, To be calm when you’ve found something going on. But take your time, think a lot, Why, think of everything you’ve got. For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. It’s not time to make a change, Just sit down, take it slowly. There’s so much you have to go through. Son: All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside, It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it.

I remember thinking that this song contained a lot of sound advice: take your time, think a lot, just sit down, think of everything you’ve got, it’s hard but it’s harder to ignore it, etc. The right song came along at the moment I needed it, and I remembered this little fact yesterday while listening to another Cat Stevens’ song on the same radio station.

This song helped me through a tough time. I won’t forget that. Take it slowly but don’t ignore it.

Back to my research, now!


  1. Hello Margaret,
    Yes, this song rings so true for me as well. Do you know why it is connected to the Russian Revolution? – interesting. I actually use it in my English classes quite often. I don`t tell my students what it is called – I get them to come up with a title. Invariably their ideas come close to the title Cat Stevens gave.
    Love the photos of your cats.

  2. I didn’t have a song playing on the radio after I first heard my diagnosis. I remember feeling cold inside and thinking, “I’m the one.” I thought those words because the statistics I’d heard associated with cancer popped into my head and I thought about my two sisters. (One in three.) Then I waited at the desk to pay my bill and wondered why I didn’t just walk out.

    The memory is still very vivid.

  3. Sì, è proprio bellissimo questo ricordo, per quanto triste possa essere. No song for me neither. Just a letter from the lab with the biopsy result: MM. It was my birthday, November 2005. Cold outside. Cold inside.

  4. This post gave me chills. I have strong associations with that song, too, but they will be different after reading your post.

    I will never forget the moment we got the first definitive piece of the bad news about my husband’s diagnosis. It was after surgery, and my husband was still not back in the room. The surgeon walked in and told me, gently, that they had found a tumor in my husband’s spine. I remember that at the word “tumor” my gaze fell to his shirt buttons (he was wearing a salmon colored shirt) and then to the floor, and that my heart sank right along with his gaze. His voice was going on somewhere above me, and the word “tumor” was bouncing around inside a huge hollow emptiness. Then he bent down and asked me, “Are you ok?” If there is a useful answer to that question at a moment like that, I don’t know what it is. I nodded, and he asked me, “Are you sure?” I nodded again, and he left the room, as doctors do, and I waited for my husband, still blessedly ignorant, to be brought back to the room to his new reality. LIsa, Cyprus

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