Cowgirl Up!!! ... Does Horse Poop Cause Cancer??

Monday, November 27, 2017

(Updated!) Surprise, Surprise... Thank you Body for Sabotaging Me!

Hello 11.27.17
(and continued 11.30.17)

I Bit The Dust, and Got Really Sick...

A lot has happened since my 11.17.17 post. 
As I described previously, I had been battling a "head cold" since early November. It truly seemed like a head cold, as I had brief bouts of all the symptom types. Started with a minor headache, then minor sore throat, then a few sneezes and runny nose, then some coughing. I was proud, and bragging, that my body was able to fight off a "big one"!! ....

I continued with life on the days I felt ok, and I seriously did not push myself. I don't do that. I read my body and symptoms, and don't try to be a hero. I felt good, then lousy. Then good, then lousy...

November 19 brought the MMRF Marathon Walk.
I had started a team and lightly fundraised. As I always mention, I plan things, but never know if I will actually be able to participate in the events. But it seemed like all would be fine for this event, and I was set to go. However, I struggled with the idea that Check-In was 7:30am, the Program around 8:30am, and the Walk beginning at 9am. Early mornings are challenging for me now, as 1- I don't sleep soundly or well, and especially anticipate having to get up early, therefore my sleep is even worse and less refreshing; 2- I never know how my "biology" will be, and worry that I won't be able to leave the house on time, or if I do, might have "GI challenges" when I get to where I'm going, then that becomes an issue. My days before myeloma and chemo were "normal", and mornings were a non issue as a "working mom", doing everything that involved getting us to school and work by 8am!

But now, with the ravages of years of myeloma and chemo, my body does what my body wants to do to me, and I have little choice of what will happen "biologically". Quality sleep is a big issue, and if you've followed my blog for a while, or know me personally, you know all about my crazy "lower GI challenges", that really affect my life! So anyway, I managed to get going, and we got to the event with little problem. I felt tired of course, but nothing extreme. They had little lite breakfast snacks, which I didn't indulge in, and envied all the "normal people" that can just eat, drink, and function.

We signed in, got our Tees, photos, chit chatted, listened to speakers, etc, then off to the races, as they say. I wasn't planning to actually Walk the Walk, but my family and team were so surprised I wasn't going with them, that I felt bad, and just went. It was a 5k, which I believe is about 3ish miles. I didn't have difficulty, but I did wish a golf cart would have come along and offered me a ride back. But that's ok, I did it, and again, wasn't overly "walk related" tired. I'm always tired, so I didn't feel anymore tired than "normal".

Go Team Momma Viz! 

And off we went

And here we are at the completion. 
I do look pooped, by my slummpy posture

My super supportive gal pals, Janet and Laurie 

My ultra Marathoner Jesse, 
who's completed hundreds of Marathons, 
many cancer fundraiser related

 Cuties Scott and Ashley

Cuties Kristin and Alissa
(I do look tired here...)

If you want to see all the public pictures of the event, click here, as there are over a thousand! 

Yes, I'm happy I did this, and very appreciative to all my Teammates and Donors that made this event such a success for our team. The remainder of the day was uneventful, and I tried to relax, eat early and get to bed early, as I had my 6 month check up appointment the next day, with my COH, SCT doctor. I had taken my labs several days before, and eagerly awaited hearing my myeloma stats. 

But the story will have to be continued, as today was a very complicated day, and I've run out of time and energy to continue this post... 
I promise though, I won't leave you hanging too long... 

MM stats coming..
And the full illness, I really bit the dust and wound up really sick, with a super HIGH fever in ER-Urgent Care, story is coming!!! 

11.30.17 I'm Back! And here's the rest of the crazy November story: 
So after the MMRF walk, I had my SCT Bi-yearly check up appointment. I was feeling ok, and didn't have any suspicion a wild storm was brewing within me. All my check in stats, blood pressure, oxygen, temp, everything was normal. I mentioned I had been battling a lousy "headcold" since the beginning of November, and that I had the "routine" brief symptoms, but nothing dramatic. I mentioned the cough was there, but I didn't have pain in my chest, no problem breathing, etc. My Dr listened to my chest, said he heard a little wheezing, but not congestion, etc. We chatted about my status and that my IgA was elevated again. I let him know, that due to infrequent "social events" I don't always take the 20mg Dex every week, due to the several days of subsequent crash, and how that keeps me homebound, feeling yucky. We talked about Q of L, (meds vs life), and he really encouraged me to take it as regularly as possible, as my type of myeloma hates Dex. I promised I would, but here we go,... my Birthday was coming up, then Thanksgiving, then a few other events, hence my timing issues. See I love the "up" of Dex, but then have plan plan for a few days out of circulation, so I have to plan for the crash... Blah, Blah...

 I took the 20mg Dex today :))

 Not bad, right... IgG getting stronger on Darza, Pom, Dex

Still no M Protein showing!!

Not normal, but not bad! 

So Tuesday rolls around, and I feel ok, but I did feel a bit off. I chalked it up to all the things I had done all of November (while battling the headcold), and especially Sunday's MMRF Walk. I went ahead and planned my Birthday for Wednesday, and Thanksgiving on Thursday, and another social event on Sunday. Sometime on Tuesday, I began to feel more off. I started feeling achy, blah, headachy. I tried to "will" it away. At this point it becomes a blurr, as to when the BIG FEVER actually hit. I think in the middle of the night, Tuesday in Wednesday. Yes, I developed a blazing FEVER on my Birthday. So symbolic, as I will never forget November 2009, when I turned 50, then a month later was diagnosed with Myeloma! 

I woke up, and just couldn't believe how awful I felt. I knew what was happening... I was so sad, so devastated. I felt so betrayed by my body. I feel so betrayed all the time. But why, Body, why, on my Birthday, and Thanksgiving?? Why, I pined, moaned, lamented, almost cried... I just couldn't believe my status... and it got worse, and worse, and worse each day. I let my family know all plans were off. I was so sad. They had to cancel my Bday dinner. Cancel Thanksgiving dinner, and eat by themselves. So sad. And I was so mad too. And I felt so physically awful. My body ached from the fever, and my body ached from coughing wrong, and pulling a muscles, pinching a nerve, or bruising a rid, I didn't know. I didn't want to eat or drink or do anything. But I pushed myself. I took children's melt a way Tyelenol and Advil. I don't think it made much of a difference. I stayed in the recliner chair all day, then fell into bed a night. I was misrable mentally and physically. I felt so betrayed by my body. Myeloma is eating me up. Chemo is battling, but gives me side effects. Sickness makes me feel sicker. The fever makes me feel like giving up. I work hard "Counseling the Counselor" ... 

Wednesday I sent my chemo nurse an email explaining the situation. I had no energy to call and talk to anyone, let alone go to ER or Urgent Care. I knew they probably wouldn't see it until after Thanksgiving, on Friday. Yes, I know a cancer patient is supposed to immediately get checked when the fever is 100.3. Did I mention how high mine was? Tues, 101+. Wed, 102-103+. Thurs, 102-103+. Now before you click away, saying you won't follow a blog of such an idiot, let me tell you my reasoning. 

I did Not have a sore throat. I did Not have a bad headache. I did Not have nasal or chest congestion. I was able to take deep breaths. My chest did Not hurt. I Googled Pneumonia, Bronchitis, etc. I did not have any of those symptoms. I just had a high fever. A cough here and there, with clear phlegm. I had high fevers as a child and most of life, if I had a bad bug. My body always rallied. Over confident, yes, as I am now an immune compromised cancer patient. But I knew it would eventually go down. Kinda stupid, I know... 

Friday, my fever broke, and my Nurses and Doctors called. They couldn't believe I hadn't gone to ER. I told them my story. They begged me to go. I said I would. I did. I scheduled an appointment at 2:30, and my son drove me and my husband there. The Dr I saw was so sweet, but so concerned and adamant that I needed full detailed labs, and she was going to consult with both my Oncologists. She was so kind, so caring, so concerned. Off to ER Urgent Care she sent me. In a bed I went. I felt silly, that everyone was over reacting. They ran an IV, and took viles and viles of blood. Some of the containers I never seen before. They were for bacteria cultures. My chest was wheezy, but not concerning.  My fever was down to 99.9 on it's own. I hadn't had any Tylenol that day. See, my body did rally on it's own! 

My labs came back similar to the ones from a few weeks ago, that I took for my 2 oncology appointments. These were remarkably good. I was surprised, and so was the ER staff :)) 

 Actually stronger than my labs at the beginning of Nov!

ANC even higher! Crazy!

And all these Negative...

While waiting for my labs to come back, and consult with the Urgent Care Dr, my son had run some errands, and brought us some light dinner. I asked him for Tomato Basil soup, and half a sandwich. I was feeling ok, and anxious to leave, as I didn't see a point just sitting there once my labs were back. I wasn't actually being treated for anything, or on an IV for anything... just waiting to consult, and eventually take a chest xray.

And then it happened... I didn't get more than a few bites of sandwich down, and not even a 1/3 of the soup, and rumble, rumble, rumble went my lower GI! Omg... nooooooooooo, not here! Not now! C'mon body... you hate me! I hadn't eaten much since my fever, and don't recall my last "bathroom biology" at home, so apparently this little bit of food was the all stimulus my GI needed, and Bam, Omg... here we gooooo....  I hollered at Scott and Jim to get out of the way, and they just looked up and said "Huh?, what's going on Mom?" I SAID "GET OUT OF MY WAY.... NOW... OMG... THE FOOD'S GOING THRU ME!" Yep, I made it to the little ER bathroom, as it was just around the corner from Jim, and I cussed the whole time I was in there. WTH, OMG! Body! You Hate Me! 

10 minutes later I emerge, laughing, but pissed off. I just can't believe that I can't catch a break. First one thing, then another. I'm sorry to whine about this, as I know so many are suffering so much more than me, and in such a more serious way, but I WAS NEVER VERY SICK VERY OFTEN, BEFORE MYELOMA, and it's just so hard for me to be a sickie. I interrupted the Nurse and let her know I HAD TO LEAVE NOW. "SO, SORRY I CAN'T STAY". I explained about chemo GI side effects, and I "needed to be at home, as "these episodes last for hours on and off, and I NEED TO BE HOME. I'm so very sorry, thank you for all your care and assistance, I need to leaveeeeeeeeee".... then OMG, here we go again....... "Where's another bathroom, hurry, fast, where", I panicked... as the one I had been in, was occupied! OMG body, this is just tooooooooo much! I ran around the corner, out of ER... made it to BR #2. 

That's it body, I'm done with you. Can't catch a break. I felt like I was back in the hospital with my 2010 Stem Cell Transplant diarrhea side effects. It was nuts. 10 minutes later, I make it back to my ER bed area, and told the Nurse to let the Doctor know I'm leaving. "Please check me out now! So sorry. Thank you so much. I must leave now. I have a little window of time to drive home, before another episode..." "But Ms Julie, you need a chest xray", please don't leave", my nurse compelled me. "Sorry, you don't understand", I smiled... "In my "condition", I can't do an xray"! "I can't take that chance that my GI will explode again, during the xray", I laughed. "Thank you so much, bye now!" 
I implored Scott to run and get the car, and for Jim to get his slow, disabled legs moving, or he was going to be left behind! Yes, we made it home... barely. I was in MY, thankfully, MY bathroom for another hour and a half... hello Imodium, I need to sleep tonight. I hate you body, and you hate me. 

That was last Friday, November 24, and each day I was slowly better. I still cough, I still blow my nose here and there, but no extreme symptoms. Because I dashed off so fast, the Doctor gave me a RX for the Z Pak, since the Bacteria Cultures weren't back, and he wanted to treat me for the worst, just in case I did have a bacterial infection. I read the side effects of Zithromax, and said helllloooo NO, I'm not doing that, and chancing more diarrhea! Helllloooo No, I whined to myself. But I came to my senses, and began it, so angry at my body for betraying me. 

But when my blood test cultures all came back negative, the ER Dr said I could stop after Day 4. I know it's important to take the full course of antibiotics, but he said in my case, shortening one day was ok. Yes, Imodium was my best friend, and luckily, I only need one dose a day to do the trick.   

So that brings me to today, November 30, 2017.
Yesterday, I was curled up in our recliner, and moved the wrong way, or coughed at the same time, and BAM, POP, I heard something clunk on my back left side rib. The same dang place I was sore from last week. Dang it body! Here we go again. I hate you body. And you hate me. Ouch. Big Ouch! I found some Salonpas pads, Bengay, Icy Hot salve, and took an Advil, and went to bed, not a happy camper. But shame on me, as I should be grateful, as I am better, symptoms have lessened, but I just feel so depleted mentally and physically. Sorry I'm just not a patient patient.
So I had a brainstorm! My ol friend Dexamethasone steroids! Yes, I need to take them for myeloma killing properties, but heck, maybe as an anti inflammatory, they may help the tweaked back and ribs! So yes, this morning, back to business, I took my 20mg roids around 7am, and went back to bed, hoping for magic. And today has had a little magic, thank you Dex. I've felt better! 

And that my friends, is the end of November for me. 

And so sick of being of sick

I promise I won't :))

Thank you for reading and caring and following and tolerating, my crazy myeloma stories! Next up, Darzalex infusion on Wednesday Dec 6, and I'll update you on Dec 7, unless some other lovely drama is post-worthy before then :)) 

Live happy, live well, and make a difference somewhere, somehow, with someone or something as often as you can!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Counting Blessings, Being Grateful, Always Finding Humor

Hello 11.17.17

8 years ago my IgA was 5630
Normal range is 70 - 400
Today my IgA is 580

I am very grateful to say the least! 7 years, 11 months of myeloma treatments, keeping me alive. Pretty amazing I'm still here, and as functional as I am :))
I take nothing for granted, and appreciate my good fortune every day!

Monday I have an appointment with my SCT (stem cell transplant) oncologist. I did labs the other day, and so far only know my CBCs and organ stats. Take a look at these, and I'll post my myeloma stats after my appointment. I am surprised and thrilled to report that my organ function results (ALT, AST, BUN, Creatinine, Bilirubin, etc) are in the normal ranges. Isn't that incredible, that after almost 8 years of pummeling my body with powerful chemo concoctions, my innards are still healthy! Yes, I have so much to be thankful and grateful for! 

I've been battling a lousy head cold since Nov 6. Been a crazy thing. First a headache, but slight. Then a sore throat, but slight. A few sneezes here and there. Ok one day, lousy the next. I had a few events, and felt ok. I didn't really feel "sick-sick", just annoying head cold sick. Then this past Sunday, I developed a cough. One day ok, the next, not. It's such a weird bug. I kept thinking I was ok. Then I wasn't. I worried maybe it was in my chest, and was something to worry about, but my breathing is clear and deep, and I never had a fever. But the cough is lingering, and I can't clear all the "gunk" out yet. But it's "clear", not gross. See, I'm just not an alarmist. I've always tended to "under react". Take a look at those WBCs and ANC. Maybe that's why I can't get rid of this bug. Ya think! I really don't think I have anything serious, but we'll see when I meet up my Dr on Monday.

But that's after the MMRF Marathon Walk on Sunday. I signed up and created a Team, thinking I would just raise a few dollars to donate to the MMRF. But friends and family wanted to participate, which is so sweet. And lots of amazing people donated! So now I have to show up on Sunday! And this will be very challenging for me, as it's really really really early in the morning, and I never feel well in the morning, no matter the status of my health! I always wonder why fundraiser events for cancer patients always start so early in the morning. Every event I've wanted to participate in, is like this. Maybe I'm the only one who morphs into yuck at night, and wakes up feeling so blah...

And then Wednesday is my birthday, and Thursday is Thanksgiving, and Friday off to the Chemo Lab for my Monthly Darzalex infusion. I think it's infusion #20. I've continued to take Pomalyst, which wreaks havoc on my WBCs, so it's no wonder I can't kick this bug. Isn't it crazy that on the one hand all the meds are keeping me alive. Yet on the other hand, they are sabotaging my immune system. All I can do is continue to count my blessings, keep a positive attitude, and for me, find humor in whatever I can, as laughter is therapy for me.

For those that celebrate, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your families. Stay well, be happy, and let the stress go...

My current life

My next life 

Live happy, live well, and make a difference somewhere, somehow, with someone or something as often as you can!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holding Steady... Well Kinda...

Hello November!

Yes, it's been a long and winding road...

The months roll forward, and I marvel at the progression, my progression. Not such a big deal to the "well person", but to one who's cellular clock is an internal ticking time bomb, the progression month to month, year to year, is always so miraculous and worth daily notation and celebration! As I slowly pack away my Halloween decorations, I can't help but wonder... will I be able, or around, to unpack them next year...

I took blood tests last Thursday, Nov 2 for today's monthly status check. Surprise, no surprise, my WBCs are almost Neutropenic again, as I completed my 21 days of Pomalyst that day. I'll find out today at my monthly oncology appointment, if I need to start a few days of Neupogen/Zarxio shots. No problem with that anymore. I actually look forward to the immune system boost, and I'm now a pro at self injection lol. Grab that tummy chub, and boom, done!

WBC = 2.4 (normal 4 -11)
ANC =  1.2 (normal 1.8 - 7.7)
What's yours?

So guess what happened to me? After a sleepless weekend spent celebrating my 40th (what?! omg!) High School reunion, I woke up Monday morning with a headache and sore throat. Yep, I bit the dust. I've got a "little" head cold. But my minimalist immune system is rallying, and I don't have a fever, and hopefully won't get worse... Had a wonderful time connecting with ol friends and classmates. Can't believe I'm this "old". Life just moves at blazing speed forward while we're living life. Then suddenly a milestone event happens like this, and it's just shocking to realize where I am now. Don't most all of us still mentally feel so young, but the mirror and calendar says different...

 Here I am, early high school days, 
with my beloved first horse "Stoney"

One of my fave girlfriends way back in Elem, Jr High.
Linda and I were "ponypals" back then.

 2 of my fave twinsie girlfriends from High School-
Such wonderful memories.

I would post more, but not sure if everyone
wants to be on international social media :))

Beach weather was awesome, I would have loved to stay the day.
But when I woke up, I could feel my body betraying me :((

To be continued... when I return home from my Dr appointment... 
I wonder what my Thursday Nov 2 labs will reveal? What's your bet? Will my IgA and M Protein be up, down, or similar to last month? I'll post my stats later today.

What a way to live, right... wondering if my triplet cocktail of Darzalex, Pomalyst, Dex steroids is still pummeling myeloma. Or if myeloma is stealthily mutating, and outsmarting these amazing meds, which have been saving my life since March of this year... we'll see...

11.8.17 UPDATE

Yes, I am still battling this "little bug" that invaded me, but so far, nothing too dramatic. For someone with a "normal immune system", they'd probably take a few Tyelenol, extra Vitamin C, Claritin, etc, and go on to work and "normal life". Well, I'm doing that to an extent, but taking note not to do too much, so as not to make things worse. I comment about this, as I am really proud my weak immune system is battling, and I'm not the "typical myeloma patient" who winds up with a horrible respiratory infection, pneumonia, and then in ER.

And now for my monthly myeloma stats. Pretty proud of these too!

Abnormal, but not deadly

Still amazed how well Darzalex, Pomalyst, Dex 
are doing for me. Seriously, look at January!

Not bad, but not normal of course

And finally glad to see that my
M Protein is only lurking, but not showing up ... yet
(see the last result box ^ )

Yes, it's November 2017, and 8 years ago this month, Doctors were letting me know my blood tests were showing "something very unusual, that needed further testing", that something was really "not right" with me. Bleeding out "everywhere", super Anemic, super low WBCs, "unusual Protein levels", extreme Fatigue, Breathlessness, strange Aches and Pains, getting Sick often, a few Bruises here and there, and fuzzy mentally...

I just thought my life was too busy, too much going on... NEVER IN MY WILDEST THOUGHTS, did I think I was REALLY SERIOUSLY SICK...

Live happy, live well, and make a difference somewhere, somehow, with someone or something as often as you can!

My Story... How my MM was diagnosed

October/November/December 2009...

Most of my life I was VERY presumptuous about being healthy, taking my (mostly) GOOD health for granted...
I was committed to annual check-ups for all of us, and so late October 2009, my daughter and I went for our annual and very routine physicals.

Surprise, surprise... my routine blood tests revealed extreme Anemia, significant White and Red Cell issues, low Platelets, and a variety of other CBC red flags! I was (stupidly) not worried when my GP doc left repeated phone messages to contact him, and when we did speak, I (stupidly) requested postponement of his referral appointment to the Hematology Dept until the end of the Fall academic term.

Arriving for my first appointment Dec 14, 2009, I was confronted with the check-in sign that read: "Hematology/Oncology"... What? Nooooo! not me... I must be in the WRONG place! And so my diagnosis journey began with vials and vials of blood drawn "stat", urgent Dr consultations, a surprise and painful Bone Marrow Biopsy, a full body Skeletal Scan, more blood tests stat, and then on 12.30.2009... THE revealing meeting... the "huh-what" moment ... the confirmation diagnosis that I, Julie, have CANCER!!!

Happy New Year to me, I just learned a new vocabulary word:
Multiple Myeloma!!! MM, Multiple Mye-what-loma!!!

January - June 2010

My medical metamorphosis began.
I read, and read, and read and researched and researched MM. I trusted my expert Oncology/Hematology team's plan and began my "New Normal" as a cancer patient.
My treatment plan was developed to include powerful Dexemthesone steroids paired with Revlimid chemotherapy, with the plan to be hospitalized for an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant July 2010.

I began living "one day at a time" like never before.
Jim was a wreck. Alissa and Scott were stunned; family and friends shocked.

Me... Cowgirl Up! I got back in the saddle and knew I was in for the ride of my life!
I did well on my initial pill-form Revlimid Chemo, "roid-rage" Dex Steroids and other supportive meds. I am forever deeply grateful and appreciative for all the love and support from everyone in my personal and professional life! I thank all of you for working along with me, and allowing me to continue to lead a semi "normal" life!
YOU have helped save my life!

My treatment trail ride forks to City of Hope hospital as I will saddle up beginning June 9, 2010 for a new rodeo called an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant!
Ye-Ha, let the adventure begin!

Chemical Warfare...

January 2010 - May 2010:
My initial chemo regimen:

Pill form Chemo= Revlimid (10mg, 15mg capsules)
Pill form Dexamethasone Steroids (40 mg, 4 days on, 4 days off!
Omeprazole for steroid acid reflux
Mepron (looks like yellow finger paint) Anti-fungal, Anti-viral, etc for my very compromised immune system
.81 Aspirin to prevent DVT, Revlimid complications
Allopurinol- keeping the kidneys healthy
Acyclovir- anti-Shingles, anti-viral

June 2010:
High dose IV Cytoxan chemo
Neupogen to build up stem cells for Apheresis, stem cell harvest, which was very successful, as City of Hope was able to collect 9.5 million of my own stem cells

July 2010 Hospitalization:
Two days of high dose Melphalan chemo
Then July 5, 2010 = my Autologous Stem Cell transplant infusion!

And you can read my whole story from that point forward in this blog!

What is multiple myeloma?

What is multiple myeloma?

Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body. To learn more about how cancers start and spread, see What Is Cancer?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system.

The immune system is made up of several types of cells that work together to fight infections and other diseases. Lymphocytes (lymph cells) are the main cell type of the immune system. The major types of lymphocytes are T cells and B cells.

When B cells respond to an infection, they mature and change into plasma cells. Plasma cells make the antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) that help the body attack and kill germs. Lymphocytes are in many areas of the body, such as lymph nodes, the bone marrow, the intestines, and the bloodstream. Plasma cells, however, are mainly found in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside some hollow bones. In addition to plasma cells, normal bone marrow has cells that make the different normal blood cells.

When plasma cells become cancerous and grow out of control, they can produce a tumor called a plasmacytoma. These tumors generally develop in a bone, but they are also rarely found in other tissues. If someone has only a single plasma cell tumor, the disease is called an isolated (or solitary) plasmacytoma. If someone has more than one plasmacytoma, they have multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is characterized by several features, including:

Low blood counts

In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, leading to low blood counts. This can cause anemia – a shortage of red blood cells. People with anemia become pale, weak, and fatigued. Multiple myeloma can also cause the level of platelets in the blood to become low (called thrombocytopenia). This can lead to increased bleeding and bruising. Another condition that can develop is leukopenia – a shortage of normal white blood cells. This can lead to problems fighting infections.

Bone and calcium problems

Myeloma cells also interfere with cells that help keep the bones strong. Bones are constantly being remade to keep them strong. Two major kinds of bone cells normally work together to keep bones healthy and strong. The cells that lay down new bone are called osteoblasts. The cells that break down old bone are called osteoclasts. Myeloma cells make a substance that tells the osteoclasts to speed up dissolving the bone. Since the osteoblasts do not get a signal to put down new bone, old bone is broken down without new bone to replace it. This makes the bones weak and they break easily. Fractured bones are a major problem in people with myeloma. This increase in bone break-down can also raise calcium levels in the blood. (Problems caused by high calcium levels are discussed in the section “How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?”)


Abnormal plasma cells do not protect the body from infections. As mentioned before, normal plasma cells produce antibodies that attack germs. For example, if you developed pneumonia, normal plasma cells would produce antibodies aimed at the specific bacteria that were causing the illness. These antibodies help the body attack and kill the bacteria. In multiple myeloma, the myeloma cells crowd out the normal plasma cells, so that antibodies to fight the infection can’t be made. The antibody made by the myeloma cells does not help fight infections. That’s because the myeloma cells are just many copies of the same plasma cell – all making copies of the same exact (or monoclonal) antibody.

Kidney problems

The antibody made by myeloma cells can harm the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure.