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Darlene Pfeiffer

 

    Atlanta, GA; darlee53@charter.net

1946 / Class of '08 / Type: IgG / Back pain / Chemo, SCT / Remission, relapse / Updated: 4/09

I am originally from Pennsylvania, but moved to Atlanta area when my husband was transferred here with the airlines.

Pain started when I fell into a doorway and caught myself. Then several days later I had severe horrible pain in my back. This was in august of '07. I then went to my doctor and he said I probably just pulled muscles in my back. Pain continued so bad that every time I lay down to sleep, I could not get out of bed without the same severe pain and lots of help.

I went back to my doctor after sleeping in a chair for over 3 months or more. He proceeded to lay me down for an exam of my abdomen since I told him I thought I had a cancer in me. Needless to say when he tried to get me up, the pain and my screaming were both unbearable! He still insisted it was muscles in my back or slipped disc [this was Nov. '07.] Two days later I went to the hospital emergency room and had an evaluation and x-rays. The doctors confirmed it may be a slipped disc, and told me to confer with a bone doctor.

I went to the bone doctor finally on December 21st, with my nov 10th xray in hand. When the doctor read it, he was upset, and told me I had had 4 fractures to my back and that they were pretty well healed. He sent me to rehab for exercises since I was not walking well at all.

After 2 weeks of stretching muscles and rehab, I finally went to visit my daughter 2 hours away. [Late Jan. thru early Feb of 'o8] She was appalled at my condition and that I could hardly walk! She requested I go home and demand an MRI since to this point I had no blood tests, only an x-ray! I went home, called and scheduled my MRI. The radiologist could not tell me anything, but he wanted me to see my bone doctor right away.

When I saw my doctor Feb 12 '08 he could not look at me at first, but stared at the MRI, then turned slowly to say I had a cancer. I was admitted to the hospital that day, and after a week and battery of tests it was confirmed as MM, 3rd stage.

Up till then I had been basically in good health with no major problems, so this was a complete surprise. I have read where MM is rather rare, but I found someone 1 mile from me who is the same age and has it!

I was treated immediately, February '08 thru June 6th '08 with Revlimid, Dex, Velcade, and finally a stem cell transplant in June '08. Have not needed many meds since then, since test show I am in a complete remission! I am having Zometa treatments every month. I take vitamins, potassium, fish oil, flaxseed oil, etc., every day.

It has been over 7 months since my stem cell transplant. I feel like it just about killed me... 3 weeks in the hospital. Never ate much, nothing was going in, but everything kept coming out!

It was very hard the first couple of months after, but has gotten better every day! I walk well, can go up and down stairs again. I lived in our dining room for several months in a hospital bed.

I really miss being very active, but have had to learn to have many more quiet and resting times! I am currently under two doctorsí care: one oncologist in Newnan, Georgia where I live, and the other at Emory Winship Cancer Center in Atlanta. Great people and caring doctors.

I am just happy to off major meds and able to do lots of my normal routines again! Can't believe I went into a remission so fast, but am grateful to all of my support of friends and family. Of course after stem cell, I lost all my hair, and thru this all I also lost 3+ inches in height!

I have a monthly checkup to see if my remission is holding. I go back in July for a complete physical at the cancer center to get all my shots again. Hardest thing has been trying not to get sick by being near too many people. I have had two colds in two months, so my immune system is nil!

I certainly would not have gotten this far without my husband and children. (As of 2009) We have three children, a son 38, daughter 35, and a daughter 34. 5 grandboys, all under 12!

April, 2009: I was informed mid-March that there are again signs of my Myeloma returning. Full remission was short [approx 9 months]. It was nice for a while, since I did not go on any drugs.

Chemo has been started again [Velcade twice a week] back to running to the doctor and hospital again! I had to have a port installed since my veins are bad.

We had been attempting to renovate our dining room and kitchen, but things will be slower now, since I don't feel as well on the chemo.

My church family, husband and my kids and grandkids have been great thru all!

 

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