In 2015, I was on a family vacation when I began experiencing back pain so severe that I had to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my trip. Upon my arrival home, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor who referred me to an oncologist. After several tests, I was diagnosed with myeloma. I was devastated.
Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed, along with horrible side effects, sleepless nights and countless blood transfusions. But I was not going to let cancer defeat me. I remembered a quote, “Cancer is a word, not a sentence,” and thought “OK, I got this.” I felt spiritually strong.
In August 2016, I had an autologous bone marrow transplant using my own stem cells. I also participated in an immunotherapy clinical trial, the day after my transplant. It was an extremely difficult time, and this experience gave a new meaning to the word “sick.”
Since the transplant and the trial, I am doing much better. I’m in remission, and now on maintenance treatment. I’m thankful to my doctors, Dr. Paul McClain and Dr. Ivan Borrello. I wouldn’t be here without them!
I’m thankful to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) who not only funded one of the treatments that helped save my life, but has also been a valuable support system. LLS provided me with the information, support and encouragement I needed. I decided to become an LLS volunteer and help others the way LLS helped me: by giving hope. I volunteer through LLS support groups and Myeloma Link, a program that aims to improve access to education and treatment for myeloma in the African American community. I also participated in my first Light The Night Walk last fall, which gave me an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.
Every day that I survive is a blessing and a victory. If you ever feel that you’ve come to the end of your rope, remember to tie a knot and hang on!