Sunday, November 10, 2019
So Much Myeloma Everywhere!!!
So yesterday I attended my local Myeloma support group, that I have been attending for years... (I'll have to ask our facilitator how long I've actually been going)... Wonderful group, wonderful facilitator/leader Theresa! I have benefited so much from attending this group. Have learned so much from everyone's stories of treatment, their life with myeloma, and sharing cancer survival skills... The meetings are informative and emotional. Some meetings are Medical/professional speakers, other meetings Members sharing their Myeloma stories. Yesterday we had a large group, with quite a few new members. Newly, recently diagnosed, to one man, WHO HAS SURVIVED AND LIVED WITH MYELOMA FOR 32 YEARS! YES 32 YEARS! That's not a typo! I still can't get over it. His story gives all of us such hope!!!
Driving there I was teary and emotional, as I haven't attended in months due to my husband's rapid Alzheimer's decline, and the challenges of both our illnesses, along with the recent CA fires surrounding that area and mine. But on top of those emotions, I was super sad and reflective because my neighbor and special myeloma buddy Gary, (who I attended with for years (along with his wife Pat, and my hubby Jim)... had recently passed away this August... So driving there alone, without any of them, really affected me. Just so much loss on so many levels personally, along with seeing the burnt hills, so close to homes and the Reagan Library, was just so sad on so many levels...
At the meeting, there were so many stories of all kinds of myeloma treatments, successes, failures, hospitalizations, medications, medications, medications, stem cell transplant stories, challenges, challenges, challenges, etc... but what impacted me the most, were the stories of horrific bone issues, compression fractures, bone breakage survival, bone surgeries, Kyphoplasty, etc... I need a lesson in Human Anatomy and Physiology to know what parts everyone was referring to!!! Brought back memories of my status this time last year, with my awful painful plasmacytoma and lesion issues, resulting in Radiation in December 2018... But in comparison, I feel so fortunate with my treatment success and limited pain issues compared to so many... more on this... as my Horse Farrier is here now, to trim the horses hooves... then more "stuff" here to attend too, then off to take weekly blood tests, then, then, then.... see there always so much going here... but in perceptive... I'm so very lucky...
In the meantime.... here's our Anatomy lesson for the day... as so many bones were mentioned in medical terms, I know not what they are!!!
I'm back :)) ....
There were so many stories at the meeting regarding how most people were initially diagnosed with myeloma because of severe bone pain, bone issues, bone breaks, bone surgeries, etc, it was mind bending. So many stories of kidney failure too. When I was diagnosed, my presenting symptoms were extreme horrible blood test results (clearly showing myeloma), extreme fatigue (I thought was work/life exhaustion), extreme anemia from bleeding out (which I thought was allergies and "girlie change of life"), breathing issues (which I thought was from being out of shape), and a terribly compromised immune system (which I thought was from being exposed to so many students).
But the stories! OMG :(( One lady, who has been a member for a while like me, and also a horse gal like me, was diagnosed when her neck/spine collapsed. Area C-something in the graph above. She was at her ranch, teaching riding lessons, and doing something in the barn, when cccrrraaaacccckkkk, went her neck... So many stories of extreme bone pain, bone fractures, lesions, on and on and on... So the "pity party" I came to the meeting with, quickly turned to gratefulness of my status.
Whoops, here comes Jim needing help, and our caregiver has left...
I'll try again to update...
Thank you loyal blog followers for your concerned messages regarding me not posting on the 9 yesterday...
Just so much going on here, and I never get the private time to write, as I used to... Not enjoying being "boss lady" in charge of "everything"....
Helpful Myeloma Links
- American Cancer Society- Multiple Myeloma
- American Society of Hematology
- Ask Dr Durie
- Cancer Therapy Advisor - MM
- Chemo Care- Drug definitions
- Dexamethasone Steroids
- Health Monitor Magazine
- International Myeloma Foundation
- LLS- Myeloma
- MM resources
- Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
- Myeloma Beacon
- Myeloma Blogs
- Myeloma Central
- Myeloma Crowd
- Myeloma Symptoms
- Patient Power
- Support Groups
- Understanding Multiple Myeloma
My Story... How my MM was diagnosed
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!
My initial chemo regimen:
Pill form Chemo= Revlimid (10mg, 15mg capsules)
Allopurinol- keeping the kidneys healthy
Acyclovir- anti-Shingles, anti-viral
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?
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.
The antibody made by myeloma cells can harm the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure.