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Ruby Conwell


Chicago, IL;

1932 / Class of '06 / Lambda light chain / Broken hip / Velcade / Updated: 4/06

(By daughter, Denise James)

My mother lived in the countryside near Atlanta until she was 16 years old. My grandfather brought her and my aunts to Chicago. My mother has 12 biological children, ranging ages 53 to 35. Sheís retired from the US postal service. She believes she got MM from working there. She is a breast cancer survivor, 2003. I donít know much about my motherís health history as she did not tell me about it. She did tell me a few years ago she took only one prescription, for high blood pressure.

My mother was diagnosed with MM after breaking her hip on Feb 22, 2006. After 2 weeks of rehabilitation she was given two chemo Velcade treatments. She believes she had very bad side effects from it. Her oncologist told her she is the first to have such side effects. He believes she might have had the flu. She did have bad chest congestion while in rehab for her broken hip. She was hospitalized for fluid in her lungs. There was no official pneumonia diagnosis. The doctor gave her six antibiotic pills in case she had pneumonia and released her from the hospital. My mother told me should would not take Velcade again while living.

Two days later she had a stroke on April 1, 2006. My sister called me that morning to say ma wants to go to the hospital. I told her it would take me an hour to get there. Ma wanted to go to her cancer hospital. I showered and my sister called me (doesnít it always happen this way, phone rings while in the shower?) I called my sister back, she informed me that ma does not want to go to the hospital. She wants to wait for her appointment 2 days from now. She suggested we both go to maís place. When I arrived at her apartment, the paramedics were at her entrance. She did not recognize me. She spent 8 days in ICU and had a heart attack while there. She is currently in rehab. She is learning to walk, read again. Her oncologist does not want to give her Velcade again in case it caused her stroke. Her health insurance will not pay for Celgene. She has requested the manufacturer to provide it to her. We are awaiting a response. Her oncologist also said he is trying to get her into a clinical trial.

I am so happy to be in Chicago to be near my mother. Of her 12 children only 8 are in the area. Mostly my sister and I take care of her.

I think her biggest concern is perhaps she may not be totally independent again. She is adamant she does not want to go to a nursing home. I asked her, what about an assisted living facility? She says that would be ok. We are trying to convince her to get a power of attorney, AFTER sheís out of rehab.

I read that 40% of blacks that have a stroke die from it. My Grandmother died from a stroke. She did not have the good health insurance my mother has. I did relay that dismal statistic to her. My mother is very smart, she believes thatís because they canít afford the health care that she can.


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