Monday, June 6, 2011

The Beginning.

On December 7, 2008 my Mom attended at the ER to try to discover the source of worsening pain in her neck. She had tried pain killers and anti-inflammatory meds, she had tried physiotherapy, rest, heat, and ice all without relief.

The results of the CT scan stunned us: tumors all over her spine and in one kidney.  I consider myself to be  medically savvy owing to my lengthy training starting with Marcus Welby and Dr. Kildare right up to Dr. McDreamy at Seattle Grace and Dr. Gregory House.  So of course when I heard this I knew my mother had renal cancer that had metastasized and spread to her bones.   I doubted she would see 2009.

Fortunately for my Mom, she sought a second opinion from an actual oncologist and was found to have multiple myeloma - cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Those are a type of white blood cells that create antibodies that fight infection in the body.  It is a blood cancer.

The cancer spreads to the bones where lesions appear, which was the cause of my Mom's pain and what showed up on the fateful CT scan. 

Fortunately, the prognosis for a multiple myeloma patient is better than for one with metastasized cancer of the kidney. Treatments can beat back the cancer.  For patients younger than my Mom (76 at diagnosis) a stem cell transplant can extend life.  Unfortunately, it is not curable and treatments do ultimately fail. We were told that people do live 5 to 10 years with multiple myeloma.  Considering the dire alternatives, we took this as "good" news.
Christmas 2008

We enjoyed Christmas 2008 with a new appreciation for health and each other.

My Mom had an intense course of radiation to treat the pain and began oral chemotherapy.  A month later the pain was much decreased but she was very weak and she was hospitalized for about a week.  She may have had PCP a virulent pneumonia, or just radiation-affected lungs.  She pulled through fine and finished her six month course of chemotherapy.

While her blood work did not indicate complete remission, the drugs had done their job and beat back the myeloma.

1 comment:

Eschelle said...

you're so brave to post this, but your title rings true.

we're hear to listen to you :D xoxox (((HUGS)))