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Inspirational Stories

John Patrick

multiple myeloma (MM)

During the summers of 2020 and 2021, I remember feeling really tired, I figured it was because of the summer heat, so I didn't pay much attention to it. Every year dating back to about 2008, about twice a year, I also have had back issues where the pain was so bad that it was hard for me to straighten up, and I would walk hunched over during that time. It would last for about two weeks at a time. I also noticed that it felt like my ribs would pop in and out of place. Being a disabled veteran, I would go to the VA hospital and make an appointment with my primary care doctor, and they would do x-rays and lab work. In November 2021, the back pain was so bad (nine out of 10) that I could not even get up from the sofa unless I really had to, and I remember that it seemed like I had a really bad case of the flu. I was working from home, so I did not have to miss any work, at times it was even difficult for me to write anything legible or speak coherently. I tried to make appointments to see my primary care physician (PCP) at the VA, but with COVID, the only visit available was a video visit. I tried to tell them that I needed to be physically seen, but it was to no avail. While waiting for a video visit, the pain got so bad that my brother and mother took me to the emergency room at the VA, and all they did was give me a shot in my back and send me home after 45 minutes, with no x-rays or anything else.

Finally, on January 7, 2022, my mother took me to her PCP, and within five minutes of seeing me, he wrote a script and informed me and my mom to go to the emergency room at Clovis Community Hospital immediately. He told us to give the script to the attendant upon our arrival at the emergency room. I remember feeling really cold and, of course, being in a lot of pain. 

The first thing they did was lab work, then I was placed on a bed in a room in the emergency room (I later found out that my hemoglobin level was 5.4). X-rays were then done, and I was admitted to the hospital. During my stay, a back biopsy, bone marrow biopsy, and a three-hour and 45-minute MRI was done. I was discharged on January 16. I do not remember if I was informed that I had multiple myeloma (MM) during my stay in the hospital. The first time I really remember knowing that I had MM was when I had my first video visit with Dr. Abdulhaq, my oncologist. She was talking about starting an antibiotic regimen for osteomyelitis before we could begin treatment for the MM. We started with Revlimid® (25 mg), Velcade, calcium, acyclovir, gabapentin, steroids, and aspirin. I was also given infusions of Zometa for my bones which helped my ribs which never healed from cracks in them.

In August 2022, I underwent a stem cell transplant at UCSF and was discharged on the twelfth day. I am now on maintenance therapy taking Revlimid® (10mg), calcium, acyclovir, gabapentin, amlodipine, losartan, aspirin, celecoxib, and a Zometa infusion every two months.

I have been blessed as the only side effect I experienced from my medication prior to the stem cell transplant was fatigue on chemo day, I never experienced any nausea or other side effects. During the transplant, the only side effects from the melphalan were a little mouth soreness and a severe upset stomach, along with hair loss.

I am blessed with an outstanding support team and a prayer team that stretches across the whole United States. I am blessed with each day that I am given and know that I am in God’s care, and He is in control. I will forever be grateful to the Clovis Community Hospital and its staff, the Community Cancer Institute, Dr. Abdulhaq and her staff, and, of course, Dr. Shurnjit Purewal (my PCP who sent me to the emergency room).

I no longer say that I have good days and bad days. No matter how I feel or what is happening, every day is a good day. I want to be a positive influence on all those I come in contact with daily. I am even beginning to create a podcast for fellow cancer patients or any others who would benefit from it. It will include my journey through this and the events that led to this journey, letting them know that they are not alone.

multiple myeloma (MM)