Sam Morreale, Artist.
“ I always believed in being constantly busy, and work- work – working … but this disease has slowed me way down and makes me wish I’d slowed down sooner in my life. I’m enjoying my days more and not minding too much that everything has come to a screaming halt. I want my time to count and when it can’t – I want to check out gracefully and leave my space to the next guy. I’m anxious to see what the next adventure is and so hope I’ve lived my life well enough not to come back as a damned cat! “
by Cyndy Morreale
I love waking up in the morning to find my husband Sam, paintbrush in hand, working on his latest art creation. His art is big, bold, and very colorful … much like Sam has always lived life.
In my 30 years of being with him we have had many a crazy adventure, beginning with owning a clothing optional hot-spring, having a dinner cruise boat on the Sarasota Bay and building a botanical garden in the Caribbean island of Saba. There were trips to Bolivia, Central America, France and Italy; and cross-country drives that spawned new ideas with every city we saw and every restaurant we ate at. We couldn’t take a vacation without Sam coming home to implement some cool idea we’d discovered on our journey.
In 2007 Sam and I sold our restaurant and piano bar and prepared to get back to our travelling ways again. A diagnosis of myelofibrosis and later myelodysplastic syndrome curtailed any dreams and put a stop to those plans. Preparation to die was the only thing in the cards it seemed, until Dr Mark Brunvand of Colorado Blood and Cancer Institute suggested that my husband try a relatively new chemotherapy with Vidaza.There was never a consideration of getting a bone marrow transplant. Sam was already into his 60’s and made it very clear he had no intention of going through such a risky procedure for his age. “I decided that if it’s terminal either way, why bother?’ Sam said. “I’m not afraid to die, and I don’t want to spend my final days in some hospital. I’d just as soon die at home and skip the aggravation. Worst-case scenario, your energy is low and you’re tired most of the time.” Sam felt he would try to live with that.’
Dr. B. did suggest that we relocate to the lower altitude ofDenver. Our beautiful home in the mountains of Colorado was at 8200’ – too high for Sam’s low hemoglobin count. It was apparent that 12 years of us living at Happy Thought Ranch with its 7 ponds and a stream running through the property – was to be left behind. Fortunately for us, Happy Thought is only a half hour from Denver and visits are still possible with the use of oxygen.
City life, bright lights and gallery hopping did its magic on my husband and after only a month and a half – he went to the local art store and bought his first canvas in over 15 years. For the longest time our whole family had begged Sam to paint again yet he felt he couldn’t hold his arms up enough to do the job. One day, he finally figured out a way to do it – on a drafting table. Now he now he is almost addicted to working on his paintings, rising in the morning and painting prolifically between bouts of fatigue. He’s had two art shows and is entering three calls for artists this month.
Sam has been receiving the Vidaza chemo treatments every 6 weeks to help with the myelodysplastic syndrome – and it seems to have kept the MF at bay as well, for the time being. He still gets transfusions of red blood cells every 2 or 3 weeks to keep his blood oxygen levels acceptable. Occasionally right after chemo treatment his platelets will plunge lower than 5 and then he receives a large dose of washed platelets. Since being on Vidaza, Sam has gained back all of his weight, lost that frail look and eats and sleeps just fine. People are constantly saying “but you look so good!”
We have adapted a much more calm routine in our lives, having a few friends in for dinner and frequent family and grandchildren visits. “It wasn’t how we thought it would be but it’s a darned great life!!! says Sam.
Purchase inquiries should be addressed to: “Cyndy Morreale” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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