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My Bout with Multiple Myeloma, by Dennis R.
This book chronicles Dennis' bout with
Multiple Myeloma which was diagnosed during the summer of 2008. It
was written to be a helpful guide for others who are diagnosed with the
same blood plasma cancer, and for their families and friends who will be
called upon to support them through their own battle with this
Every procedure to which Dennis was subject
was totally new to him. The medical staff was familiar with all the
terms and procedures, but as a non-medically trained person, it was all
new to Dennis. The doctor was in a hurry to arrange for a PICC line
to be inserted (installed?) in his arm. What is a PICC line?
Turns out, it is a port that provides easy access for the chemotherapy
staff to the patient's blood vessels without having to insert a new IV
every day of chemotherapy. What is a central venous catheter?
How are each of these used? How is it inserted? How do they
sample bone marrow? What are the details of that procedure?
If you want to know what kinds of procedures
are used in the treatment of this and other cancers, Dennis chronicles all
of his treatments in this book. He provides details of the
procedures, practical pointers, and suggestions. Family and friends
who are not subject to these procedures can also learn about them from
Dennis' experiences. Having had a central venous catheter inserted
in his neck, and removed, Dennis knows now that there is nothing to
fear. But at the time, he was quite anxious going into the chemo
unit that morning to have one installed prior to collection of his stem
cells. His family and friends, however, would not have known the
details of these procedures had he not explained it to them. Only one or
two of them actually saw him the evening he went back to the hotel with
this catheter in his neck -- and even then, it was covered with a gauze
bandage so it was not easy to see.
It would have been nice to know in advance
what was coming. Dennis didn't. But none of this has to remain
secret. Find out through his experiences and explanations what is
coming. Lots of other procedures can be used -- many to which Dennis
was not subject -- but the ones he experienced are described in this book.
Suggestions and hints are also
included. Many of these Dennis learned the hard way -- from
first-hand experience -- without forethought or planning.. How does
one keep the bazillions of medications organized? Why does each
patient need a "detail person"? What kinds of details must
that person know? What about the bathtub or shower stall? What
kind of shower head is best? What should you do when friends want to
help? Where are convenient and comfortable locations (besides the
bed in the bedroom) in the house to sleep? What is the most
comfortable way to sleep in an upright position? When do you
need a care giver? Who can fill that role? How long must you
stay away from home when receiving chemotherapy treatments?
Etc. Lots of suggestions are included. Dennis included
everything he thought would have been helpful -- that he wished he had
known ahead of time. You can benefit from his
Dennis began his story about a year prior to
his diagnosis when he began to have pains for which
he could not account. Most of those pains centered about his rib
cage, sternum, and lower back. After self-diagnosing and
self-treating for about nine months, Dennis finally visited his family
doctor. It took several visits and lots of blood work before the
doctor concluded that the problem was a blood cancer known as Multiple
The first visit to the oncologist occurred the same
morning the family doctor suggested it was cancer. The oncologist
told Dennis on that first visit, "I'm 97% sure you have a cancer
called Multiple Myeloma." The specialist was convinced --- he
left the 3% uncertainty for the lab tests to prove it.
Chemotherapy started quickly --- that is, as soon
as possible. Dennis detected an urgency in the attitude of the
oncologist to get started immediately. Following were four cycles of
"regular" chemotherapy, followed by an autogenous stem
cell transplant (autogenous means from Dennis to Dennis --- no
outside donors were required.) The doctor did volunteer at one of
the first visits that the "regular" treatment he was prescribing
was one of the most complex treatments he used to treat any cancer.
Dennis' response was, "It figures!"
All of the chemotherapy took place during the
second half of 2008. The stem cell transplant took place in
December, 2008. That is, Dennis' new life began on 4 Dec 2008.
They consider it a new life apparently because if the stem cell transplant
doesn't work, survival is difficult to impossible. The medicine they
give, prior to the transplant, is sufficiently nasty to kill all cancer
cells and all other fast-reproducing cells in the body. That
includes most of the cells vital to proper functioning of the body.
The stem cells, which were removed prior to the high-dose of the medicine
to kill the cancer cells, were not subjected to the high dose
treatment. Two days after administering the high dose, they returned
the stem cells to Dennis' body.
The transplant was successful. Dennis
caught only one infection and was hospitalized for five days only once
during the whole chemotherapy- transplant process. That event
followed the second cycle of chemotherapy. All of the procedures
throughout the six months of treatments were carried out as outpatient
procedures. Dennis spent about four weeks living in a hotel five
minutes from the cancer clinic during that time --- two weeks during
collection of stem cells, and two weeks during the actual transplant
procedure. The rest of the time, Dennis remained at home and
commuted to the cancer clinics and treatment rooms when required.
At the time of this writing, the two year
anniversary of the transplant is fast approaching. Dennis is in
complete remission and his health and energy levels are slowly returning
Dennis' Christian beliefs come through in
this book. He had a large prayer support group behind him during
this whole process; his family took care of him at home; and he had
solid faith that God had everything under control because God knew what
was happening --- even when no one else knew what was happening.
Society celebrates good fights against cancer
--- even when (especially when????) the person involved does not know the
Lord. Dennis knows the Lord and this is the story of a Christian
man's battle against cancer. We pray that this book will be a
blessing to others, and their families and friends, who also have to
endure such battles.