Lethbridge, AB, Canada; email@example.com
1950 / Class of '07 / IgG Kappa / Bone lesions right femur / SCT, Revlimid, Dex, Velcade, Cyclo / Updated: 3/13
I would like to note that I first started reading stories on this site 3 years ago, but have never felt brave enough to submit my story. It has only been recently that I have started to feel comfortable talking about my condition.
I was born in 1950 in Italy and emigrated to Canada as a 6 month old baby. I have lived in Lethbridge all my life and have worked for the past 20 years as a bookkeeper and am currently self-employed. Kathleen and I have been married for 32 years and we have two children, Chistina and Garret. I have always been active and played recreational hockey until 2005 and that is where my story begins.
In the spring of 2005 I first started to have tingling in my feet. After several visits with my family Doctor I was referred to a neurologist who sent me for a nerve conduction test. When I was given the results of this test he explained to me that there was nerve damage in my feet but I would just have to live with it. It took until the spring of 2006 to get this result. For the next 8 months I continued to see my family doctor and was told I probably was suffering from arthritis and to just lose some weight and exercise more. In October of 2006 I started to have pains in my right leg and was again told that I should exercise more as it was caused by poor muscle tone. In November of 2006 my right hip was x-rayed for arthritis but came back negative.
I was introduced to the world of MM starting on January 30, 2007. My wife, Kathleen and I went grocery shopping and I tripped over a snow covered curb. It felt like I had pulled a thigh muscle so we went home and I thought I would rest and it would get better. Two days later the pain wasnít getting any better so that evening we went to emergency and the doctor told me there was fracture but that it wasnít a break but rather the bone had peeled back where the muscle attaches and the orthopedic doctor on call would come and talk to us. He came and told me that there were two tumors on my right femur and that it was probably cancer. I was admitted to hospital that night around midnight and in the following days I underwent numerous x-rays, CT scans and an MRI. Ten days later I went to the orthopedic surgeonís office and was told the good news (his words) that it wasnít bone cancer but something called Multiple Myeloma and that he would refer me an oncologist. On March 14 I finally went to see the oncologist for my initial visit and had MM explained to me. He also scheduled a bone marrow biopsy for the next day (the first of many) and so began my treatment for MM. I was sent back to the orthopedic surgeon who scheduled an operation to place a rod in my femur because there was concern that the bone would break. This took place on March 20, 2007.
When I started chemo on April 12, 2007 with a dose of VAD, my M-protein was 32. I only had one treatment with VAD as they changed the protocol and my next three rounds were with Dex only, 40 mg 4 days on and 4 days off.. I also was given Padmidronate monthly. In May of 2007 I was referred to Dr Bahlis at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary to prepare for an auto stem cell transplant. I had the fourth round of dex in July, 2007 and had my stem cells collected on August 27. They collected enough in one day. On September 13, 2007 my stem cells were given back and then the next 15 days in hospital were a blur, even though I tolerated the treatment quite well. I was discharged on September 28, 2007 and just kept feeling better and better since then. In December, 2007 my M-protein was 7.5 and it continued to go down and it was 4.3 in February of 2010. The only treatment I am currently receiving is Pamidronate every three months.
I was able to return to work part time in December of 2007 and continue to work at this time. I was also able to return to golfing in 2009 and have started golfing again this year Ė 2010. Kathleen and I have also been able to travel, the highlight for me was going to old Yankee Stadium in 2008 and returning to Italy in 2008 to visit with numerous relatives.
I feel truly blessed with the way things have turned out for me and canít say enough about the care I have received both in Lethbridge at the Cancer Center and at the Tom Baker Cancer Center Ė Unit 57 and BMT Clinic Ė in Calgary. And I especially have to thank my wife and children for their support.
November 2010: In June of 2010 my protein counts started to rise again and went from 4.2 to 10.5 in September, 2010. So 3 years from my transplant I had another bone marrow biopsy and was told that there are 10% plasma cells in my marrow. It was decided that I should commence to take Revlimid and Dex. So after three years of no treatments I started back on drugs on October 8, 2010. I take Revlimid, 25 mg, 21 out of 28 days and Dex, 40 mg, once a week. After the first month of treatment, everything is going alright, but it has been an adjustment to my life. One good thing about resuming treatment in October is that at least I was able to finish the golf season. Trying to golf while taking Dex is not a lot of fun, hopefully Iíll have it figured out by next season.
January 2011: I am still taking Dex and Revlimid and my M protein is now 4.2. The dosage for Dex was reduced to 24 mg once a week and Revlimid is still 25 mg for 21 out of 28 days. I am still feeling pretty good and hope to soon be on a maintenance dose of Revlimid only, hopefully within the next few months. I still remain very confident in the care I am receiving and canít thank everyone concerned for the care they have given me.
May 2012: I took Dex and Revlimid until the end of April 2012 at which time my M protein was 1.6. That was the good news, unfortunately something called Kappa free light chains had increased dramatically and it was decided that I should go on Velcade. I started on Velcade and Dex and something else that I canít remember the name of but I will update as soon as I find out. May 3 was my my first treatment and I receive it once weekly for three weeks and then one week off. Iím not sure how long I will be on this but Iím still very confident that I am receiving the best care possible both in Calgary from Dr. Bahlis and in Lethbridge at the Cancer Center where I receive my treatments.
And best of all I am still able to golf and seem to have lots of energy and continue to feel stronger all the time, although I still have a little trouble beating my wife at golf, but I am getting better.
August 2012: I am still on Dex and Velcade and Cyclophosphamide for three weeks out of four. As of my last appointment with Dr. Bahlis on July 25 my M Protein and Kappa free light chains were both in the normal range. Thatís the best news I could possibly have received. Dr Bahlis said I should probably continue with two to three more months of treatments. I am looking forward to be done with treatments and I hope it lasts for a long time. This treatment worked very well for me and I tolerated it quite well.
On the bucket list side of things I was able to travel to Seattle and watch my New York Yankees play on July 23 and have a trip planned with my son on September 6 to Chicago and Green Bay to see the White Sox and Packers.
All in all I am very fortunate to have the best of health care from Dr Bahlis and his wife Dr Neri at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary and the nurses at the Lethbridge Cancer Center. And most of all I have the best support from my wife, Kathleen and children Christina and Garret.
March 2013: I continued to receive Dex, Velcade and Cyclophosamide until November 2012, at which time Dr Bahlis said I could take a month off for Christmas. After my December appointment it was decided to have three treatments of Velcade in January and then Kathleen and I would become that time honored tradition for all Canadians of being referred to as snowbirds in Arizona. We left for Arizona two days after my last treatment, which Dr Bahlis and Dr Neri refer to as maintenance, with plans to stay for two months. I will fly back home in the middle of March for an appointment and blood test at the Tom Baker, at which time a further decision will be made concerning a treatment schedule.
Kathleen and I are enjoying the sunshine golfing and playing bridge, which we start playing last September. We enjoy Bridge and are getting better at it. It sure feels good to not have to be concerned about treatments for a couple of months. I continue to remain positive about my health and the faith I have in the doctors and nurses I have caring for me. I can't say enough about them and especially my family for all the support that they give me.
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