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Helen Protasewicz


Edgewater, FL;

1939 / Class of '06 / Type IgA / Back fractures / Chemo and PBSCT / Updated: 10/07

I was born in 1939. I lived in Smithtown N.Y. since 1961, Raised 3 children and in 1999 sold my house to my daughter and moved to Edgewater, Florida. I was extremely active in the community. I exercised 5 days a week, joined our tap dancing club , and all the activities I could think of. May 1st, 2006, I fell backwards in my bathroom floor and from that day everything broke loose. I had my back x-rayed and they said I probably have osteoporosis. I was sent to PT, which I think made everything worse.

I went up to N.Y. for my grandson's graduation and I couldn't wait to get home. I was in agony and living on pain pills. I then had 2 MRIs (Lumbar & Thoracic) and all the damage was there. Two compression fractures and a messed up back. I had two Kyphoplastys done Aug 9th 2006. I saw an Oncologist-hematologist in Sept. and he said he was sure I had MM. He sent me for a second opinion to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. They did a bone biopsy, and a multitude of tests for two days and they confirmed it IgA.

To have the facility in Florida was a godsend. They have fantastic MM dept and they are doing Clinical trials and research all the time. I started Oct 1st, with Thalomid and Dexamethasone. Sometime in Oct. I developed two DVT's, one in each leg, from the Thal. I was put on Warfarin. My numbers started to go down almost immediately. I stayed on the chemo until March. I was lined up for a stem cell transplant at Moffitt using my own stem cells. I went for mega tests again to see if I was well enough for the transplant. Three days of testing and I passed with flying colors. I was already in partial remission. We left the end of April 2006 for Moffitt, and preparation for the SCT. We stayed at Hope Lodge and the hospital was next door. They collected my stem cells and froze them and I received my Melphalan May 7th and 8th. May 10th I got my stem cells back. I lost my hair after the 6th day and had the side effects. I prayed and they started to get better by the 12th day. They allowed my husband to stay in my room with me all that time. I was in the hospital 14 days and then I went to Hope Lodge for another two weeks. By that time my numbers were coming up. I am home now two months after the SCT and will go back to Moffitt end of Aug for the results. I am also seeing a neurosurgeon and hopefully he can give me some relief for my back. I am looking forward to a long remission. I have 8 Grandchildren who need me. Any questions email mail me.

October, 2007: Well, after I had my transplant in May, I returned to Moffitt Cancer Center, in Tampa for my 3 month tests. Well, I was told there were no Myeloma cells to be found (yea), and some lesions in my skull were gone. The rest remained the same which was expected. The only medication I am taking since May is acyclovir to prevent shingles. My back still hurts and I am getting a kyphoplasty at Moffit this month. The neurosurgeon is very good with Myeloma backs. So I hope it helps. I am so happy and I am going to live each day to the fullest. I am hoping for a long remission. If not, I will deal with it. I still have some neuropathy, but it's not too bad. We booked a cruise in March, and one in June. I truly believe all the prayers for me helped in my recovery. I have started Zometa, two so far. I am very leery about Zometa, because of the terrible side effects it can cause (in the jaw bone). Please send me your thoughts on this. I will only take it for 6 months, and then stop. I'm scared. I will keep everyone informed on my progress.


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