Back Home

Richard Zezelic


Long Island, NY (Submitted by his wife, Pat;

1945 / Class of '92 / Anemia, skeletal events, kidney failure / Died: 2-6-00

My husband Richard was diagnosed in Dec. 1992 age 47...He was born in 1945. Richard was a healthy and very strong construction worker for over 25. In Sept. 1992 he complained of being tired but continued to to work. By Thanksgiving 1992 he was very pale, tired, complaining of a pain in his left shoulder and coughing a lot, and had a fever of 102-103 every night. I finally got him to go to our family doctor and he was put on antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection. That same evening the doctor called me and asked if my husband was bleeding anywhere because his red blood count was very low, 7.2. He was put in the hospital, red blood transfusions daily, and after 19 days on Dec.27, 1992 he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He started chemo immediately, M-2 protocol. He was on chemo for approx 18 months, and I gave him Procrit to avoid more transfusions. He reached a plateau in June of 1994 and was put on interferon. He did extremely well and all counts were higher than his oncologists ever anticipated. 

At that time we went to the Dana Farber Center in Boston for a a second opinion. We saw a Dr. Schlossberg who worked with Dr. Kenneth Anderson. Richard was told by him to continue on the interferon. 

In Feb. 1997 he relapsed with 3 compression fractures in his back. He spent 30 days in the hospital, fitted for a brace and sent home. He was put on chemo again, for 3 months, and Aredia every month. In July of 1997 he fell and broke his right hip. He had a hip replacement and spent 2 weeks in the hospital. He was put back on interferon. In Sept. 1997 he walked our daughter down the isle for her wedding, CANE IN HAND. 

In April of 1998 his blood counts started to drop and he had to stop the interferon and was put on VAD. It was not helping so his oncologist asked him to consider a stem cell transplant. 2 weeks before the transplant Richard's kidneys started to fail and he was put back in the hospital. At that time he also has 3 broken ribs, a fractured right shoulder, and 2 more compression fractures in his back. He was released after a couple of days and was in a brace again. In June of 1998 Richard was sleeping a lot more, and started to slur his words. When he became incoherent, I rushed him back to the hospital and he was in complete kidney failure. He was put in ICU, and had emergency hemo dialysis. I was told he had a 50/50 chance of making it. After 3 days he was placed on the renal floor in the hospital. He was getting dialysis 3X a week for 2 hours each time. The doctor told me that when this happens to a MM patient the average life expectancy is 20 months. 

Rich remained on hemo dialysis. In June 1999 Rich's counts were down again, so he had transfusions and Procrit during his dialysis treatments. By Nov. his platelets started to drop so he was also given platelets each time they went below 20. In Dec. 1999 Rich started bleeding from his kidneys, and received a stent. Then he started to hemorrhage from his nose and was in and out of the hospital, 3 days in 2 days out. The doctors also had him on Thalidomide, as a last resort. On Feb. 5, 2000, Rich had had enough. He took himself off dialysis and died peacefully at 1:10am February 6, 2000. 

Considering his doctors gave him only 3 - 5 years from diagnosis, he did ok. 7 years, 1 month and 10 days. We would have been married 29 yrs on March 20th. 

Pat Zezelic, Long Island, New York 


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

Site 1996-1999 June Brazil - Webmaster:
(To email story contributor, see address at top of story)