Thursday, January 11, 2007Cancer Stories: Miki's Husband
Tonight's story is from Miki, at Thoughts of a Rambling Miki. I read Miki's blog quite a bit when her husband was going through treatment, and I am happy that he is doing well now. Please read and give your her your support. If you have a story, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.~oOo~I thought I would give you my story about cancer, not lung cancer, but cancer, Multiple Myeloma in fact.
First let me say that the past year and a half has been a learning experience for my
family. My husband and myself know more about chemo drugs, stem cell transplants etc. than we have ever wanted to know in our lifetime. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. It affects bone marrow, and is incurable. If caught, it is treatable, but at present, there is no cure.
My husband was diagnosed on August 9, 2005. His bone marrow was 90% compromised with Myeloma cells. He was 39 years old. The doctor that we were refered to by our family doctor was aggressive and caring. He started treatment that day, with a medication called Zometa. Zometa's function is to keep the calcium in the bones, not to let it leach into the bloodstream. The following day, he started Chemotherapy. Some of the drugs used were Velcade, Dioxin, Cytoxin, with some Benedryl for allergies, normal saline, and a few others that I just can't remember without referencing my spiral notebook. The Doctor's staff, he has a chemo lab right in both of his offices, are wonderful people. They were caring, would talk to you as a human, efficient, and always took care of him in a timely fashion. He was referred to St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Care Center, in Manhattan, NY, by the hematologist here, at home. We live in the middle of Long Island, NY, so to get to NYC it wasn't too much of a stretch. OH, wait, I digress...It was discovered that my husband had lesions(tumors) sticking out of two places in his spine, the hope was that the chemo would kill these, and make them shrink, along with the cancer cells in his marrow. He also had a lesion that had eaten a hole in his left hip.
75% of the bone was gone and it could have shattered in no time at all.
He was lucky with that one. The doc refered him to an orthapeadist here
on the island, within a month of diagnosis. The doc here wanted all
chemo and steroid treatment to stop immediately so that the hip could be
operated on, that wasn't the plan that the hematologist had in mind, and we
told the doc that. He refered us to someone at NYU whom he went to
school with, what a great thing he did there. This doc at NYU was an
orthopeadic oncologist. His nurse practicioner has LYmphoma, which
closely mirrors MM. This doc sent my husband to have a brace made, so
that he had an outer shell to protect the hip. At the time he was using
crutches, and had to continue to use them along with the brace. He wanted the
MM semi controlled before we would do an operation. Durring all of this
mess, my husband was refered to a DR Jagganath, at St Vincent's. Dr J is
world renowned in MM research, and in some circles is known as "The King" of
Myeloma. He had bbeen on board the whole time, our doc was
checking the treatment plan with him all along.
We went to see him in September, and continued treatment at home. By Feb. my husband was ready to "harvest" stem cells. By March, he went into the hospital to have a stem cell transplant, using cells harvested from him. By July, we had the results, he was in a partial remission. His marrow was 15% compromised, but that meant that the transplant, as far as the National Transplant Registry, was a failure. The good thing here was that the doctors didn't really consider it a failure. The gave us 4 more options to bring the counts down further:
1. do nothing and see how it goes2. go on maintenence meds to keep it stable
3. a donor transplant
4. another (tandem) transplant using my husband's cells
We opted for the 4th choice. The 3rd choice would have been a "cure" but the risk to him would have been too much. He needed a relative who would match him, he had a 20% mortality rate, that is him, not the donor, and his recovery and immunity would be compromised for a longer period of time.
He had the tandem transplant in October. He came home from the hospital on a monday and went back to work on a wednesday. So far, he had a head cold, and that cough that is going around. He is tired when he gets home from work, but he feels good.
We go at the end of the month for his evaluation, to see if the transplant "worked."
The doctors will be happy if the myeloma count is down to 10% or lower, and he will still have to go on maintenence meds, probably for life. But, if it means that the disease stays in remission for another 10 years with no chemo or anything worse, then we will take the meds, pay the astronomical cost and live.
These are the symptoms of MM:
My husband would not have known that he had MM if he didn't have to take a physical for his job that involved blood work. Get physicals often, get blood work often, that is my advice. If caught early, you can LIVE with MM.
- Bone pain (which my husband didn't have)
- pain is usually extreme, to the point that it never goes away.
- high calcium levels in the blood
It affects men and women. It is twice as likely to affect African American men, and at an earlier age. My husband is caucasin(I know that is spelled wrong) but he was affected at 39.
Just get routine blood work.
It has no known cause, it isn't yet determined that it is absolutely heriditary. So it can affect one or more members of the same family, who knows??
There is a research foundation for it and many new advances have been made in the area of MM.
Their websiteis: http://www.multiplemyeloma.org/
thanks for letting me share my story, it helps to get it out there!
Posted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 7:26 PM :: 2 people are more aware ---------------------------------------