Myeloma is a beast. It is a complicated cancer with no cure and, with so many different types, no two patients are the same. Drugs can put it into remission, but it almost always comes back. And when it does, it’s a little more aggressive and needs to be attacked in a different way.
This is knowledge I’ve been living with for four years now and I’m doing everything I can to stay one step ahead of my disease.
Believing there was a cure down the line, I opted for a clinical trial to improve on the standard treatment I was offered. And now that I’ve recently relapsed, I’m pinning my hopes on immunotherapy while planning ahead for a stem cell transplant.
I try to take things day by day, although of course that can be difficult at times. Life is busy, with a husband and three teenagers, working full time in a job that I love, and managing an illness is very time consuming. I am blessed to have an amazing family and friend support system.
I was 28, married for two years, and my husband and I had just celebrated our one-year anniversary at my business, Gigi’s Cupcakes. We were happy and healthy and ready to start thinking about having a family. Life was perfect!
On March 30, 2012, that all changed. I had gone to see my physician for bruising on my legs. After undergoing a couple of lab tests, my doctor informed me that in all his years of medicine, he had never seen a white blood cell count that high. He couldn’t fathom it was correct, but if it indeed was, I either had leukemia or lymphoma. I will never forget the numbness I felt when those words came out of his mouth. He called back that afternoon with confirmation of our worst fears and said I was to go see a hematologist/oncologist the next morning.
Having to call my husband home from work to tell him the news was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. After the longest night of my life, we went to see Dr. Grant Lewis at Summit Cancer Care for my appointment. By the way, that man is my angel. After lots of blood work and a bone marrow test, they confirmed it was indeed leukemia, but they weren’t yet sure what kind.
As I was waiting to be assigned a room in the hospital, my doctor came back for yet another bombshell: “I have good news and I have bad news. Good news is it looks like chronic myeloid leukemia; bad news is that you are pregnant.”
Anxiety is a real and true problem for about 40 million American adults—and lots of them are not even part of the nation’s cancer cohort.
For many people with cancer, trying to eject the big C from the front of their minds is tough to do. After weeks or months of treatments to get to remission, or receiving a chronic cancer diagnosis with a wait-and-see approach until treatment is needed (what one of my friends terms “medical limbo”), it is certainly a challenge to get past the anxiety of cancer every waking moment.
Once cancer enters your life, everything gets complicated. You may feel out of control in your medical situation as well as your daily activities. When cancer metaphorically spreads from your body to your mind and spirit, it’s time for a reset.