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
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.
Site © 2000-2015 Dean Gallea (in loving memory of June Brazil)