My Journey Through Multiple Myeloma: A Rebirth

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Braving the storm that is cancer.

cartoon drawing of cancer survivor and blogger, Ronald Chin

The journey through multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells, is a challenging one, filled with numerous ups and downs. It is an odyssey that tests one's strength, resilience and faith. It has been a while since I last shared my stories with this disease. Today, I am thrilled to announce that after a bone marrow biopsy, I am now in complete remission and minimal residual disease (MRD) negative. It feels like I won the lottery! This encouraging outcome for a patient with blood cancer means that no cancer cells can be found.

Multiple myeloma is a relentless disease, one that requires immense determination to overcome the physical and emotional effects. The progress is often marked by pain, fear and uncertainty. It began in January 2017 with lytic lesions throughout my body and fractures in my lower spine. I was accepted to be part of a clinical trial. After a couple different lines of treatments, I contracted shingles in April 2021; it appeared after the second change of medication. Though the postherpetic neuralgia still persists, I have incorporated meditation, positivity and qigong to lessen the pain. I have faith that this annoying discomfort will ultimately go away as did the cancer cells. After taking the combination of Daratumumab (a monoclonal antibody medication), Revlimid and Xarelto for over 18 months, a bone marrow biopsy was taken in June 2023. I highly recommend requesting anesthesia for this procedure as it is not offered; it definitely eased my anxiety after my first BMB experience (see my essay titled “Finding Gratitude in My Myeloma Experience” written in March 2023).

This moment of triumph was not achieved alone. It was a collective effort, involving my medical team's expertise, unwavering support from my wife, family and friends.

The feeling of having a clean slate is indescribable. I always remember the comments from a trusted friend “You have been chosen to die and get reborn in the same lifetime!” This moment feels like a rebirth, a second chance at life!

It has taught me to prioritize my life where health, good food and exercise is more important than material things. I feel gratitude for major milestones such as the ability to go up and down the stairs or taking my own shower without assistance. I have progressed from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane and now able to walk with no devices. I am free like a bird released from its cage.

I recently celebrated my BIG 70 birthday! My wish was to enjoy small intimate gatherings where I can fully revel in the company of my family and friends. In August my wife and I did a road trip from NYC to Montreal, Maine, NH and Massachusetts to visit with everyone who I’ve not seen before Covid. It was such a fun and joyful trip!

It is a testament to the power of hope, the importance of early detection, regular monitoring and the advancements in medical science. After all, every end is a new beginning and my journey is far from over.

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