Survivor Story: Living with Multiple Myeloma

A survivor's story of living with multiple myeloma.

CINDY CHMIELEWSKI
PUBLISHED: 1:00 AM, THU JANUARY 26, 2012
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Myeloma CURE discussion group.
Two years prior to my cancer diagnosis, an orthopedist diagnosed me with degenerative disc disease when I went to him to help figure out what was causing excruciating lower back pain.

I was treated with pain medication and physical therapy, but my pain grew worse. After two years of treatment, an X-ray revealed several compression fractures, which ultimately led to my diagnosis of stage 3A multiple myeloma.

I have been on several chemotherapy protocols and have had a stem cell transplantation.

Although I never achieved more than a partial response to my treatments, I am confident that with continued therapy, I will someday be able to say I am cancer-free. It is also reassuring to know that there are many drugs in the pipeline for when my myeloma becomes resistant to my current therapy.

To strengthen my bones, I receive a monthly intravenous bisphosphonate; I take calcium and vitamin D supplements daily; I spend at least 15 minutes a day in the sun; I include dark leafy vegetables in my diet; and I exercise. Since my bones are fragile, I need to be careful when exercising, so I participate in an aquatics program and walk daily with my dog. My goal is to walk a half-marathon next year. I am gradually adding gentle yoga and core-strengthening exercises to my routine.

I am living a full, active life while I am in treatment. I have learned to take things one day at a time, appreciate every day and be my own health advocate.

From "A Patient's Guide to Multiple Myeloma," published in the Winter 2011 issue of CURE. Download the full guide here.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Myeloma CURE discussion group.
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