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Chantal Heon



1966 / Class of 1999 / Transplant / Updated: 6/00

As of 2000, I am 34. When I was 1 year old, I left Canada to go to France. I lived there for 18 years with my parents and my brother, returning to Canada in 1984. At first it was not very easy because I left a boyfriend and also a lot of friends there. But when you are young, it's easy to do it all again...  

In 1986, I went to university to study art history, then went back to France for a year and came back December 1988. After that I decided to go to work for an airline just for the summer but I loved it so much that I never stopped. In 1990, I met my future husband in Portugal, fell in love in Cairo, Egypt, and since then we are still in love.

In 1994, I became pregnant, and when they did some blood tests they found out that I had a low platelet count of around 84.They did some research but found nothing. My son Michael was born in August and was a healthy baby. He is now 6 years old.

In May 1998, just before vacation, I started to have some problems with my back. I went to the clinic and they gave me some painkillers. After a week, I was feeling better. A few months later, around November 1998, the pain started again very strongly. This time it was my lower rib.

The doctor gave me some pills once again, and I felt better for a few weeks, but the pain came back again on the other side. It was so painful that I thought that I broke my ribs. I remember asking myself, “What's wrong with me?”

In January 1999, I had a problem breathing, and went into the emergency room in the middle of the night. They started doing some research and found out that I had no respiratory problems. But they asked me to return to the hospital to do an angiogram one week later. When they did the angio, they found out that my rib number 4 on the left side was damaged. A few weeks later I had a biopsy, and they found out that I had a lot of plasmacytomas. It took a month to know that I had Myeloma, and to make it worse it was at stage 3. But there was no protein in my urine.

At this time I was not living in a big town, and they suggested I find a specialist in Montreal. That's what I did, and she's a very good doctor, very understanding, and she knows what she is doing. At first it was not easy to accept the diagnosis but I chose to fight for my son, my husband and myself.

So to make a story short, I was diagnosed in February 1999, and started chemo in March. I got VAD for six rounds, and just before the first round my M peak was at 58. Just after the first treatment it went down to 44, and after 6 rounds, I was at 27. But just before the transplant, it started to rise again. I was so sad. Just before the transplant I was at 35, but she decided to do it anyway. She told me that it was possible that I would need another transplant 3 month later. At this time, I didn't know what would be the side effect of the strong chemo, but I had no choice. 

Anyway, it went very well. 13 days after the transplant, I was home, not very strong physically but very happy to be home. During my stay, I had no fever, just some problems with my mouth (ulcers). When I left the hospital, my M peak was 16, and it continued to go down until I reached 9, after which it start to get a little bit higher but never went over 15. In July 1999, I had a blood clot due to the port-a-cath, so they removed it just after the transplant.

In February 2000, I started interferon, 3 units 3 times a week. There have been no side effects, and it helps a lot. I get Aredia also, and I’m taking some supplements like calcium, vitamin B-12, E, Centrum, and folic acid.

Last month I went to see my doc and she told me that my M peak was only 2.3! I was so excited, and she was too, but we have to wait to see if the test was done properly. I don't know yet if it was a mistake or reality. I still live on the good news....

In May 2000, my doctor gave me the OK to return to work as a flight attendant. The first stop I made was Paris. I was so happy to see everybody at work, they were happy to see me, and I had the pleasure to thank them for the wonderful letters they sent me during the past year.

I remember telling my friends that I would be back soon. I knew it since the beginning. I had my ups and downs, but I was never giving up hope and I still have a good feeling about the future. With the progress they are making now, I am confident that they will find a cure for this disease. Never give up, always think positive no matter what, and enjoy your life day by day. 


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