A survivor's story of living with multiple myeloma.
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.