The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Multiple Myeloma is a “hard to figure out” cancer.  It is a cancer of the bone marrow that will take over your marrow and crowd out its ability to produce platelets and red and white blood cells. In a small percent of cases, it can be caused by a defect in your chromosomes which makes it hereditary.  Otherwise, they do not know what causes it.

I have heard some people blame over-exposure to petroleum chemicals, while others say over-exposure to wood working saw dust (I assume from cutting up plywood and other chemically-joined wood products) can be the cause.  But nothing definitive has been shown to prove any of this.  And stupid me thinks that if these were the causes, why aren’t all gas station attendants or carpenters affected with Multiple Myeloma?  I guess those of us who get it are just the “lucky” ones.

There are five subsets of Multiple Myeloma and two types of light chains which they produce in your blood – called kappa and lambda.  My Myeloma (which always reminds me of the Knack’s song My Sharona!) did a very strange thing when it came back on me three years ago, my light chains changed from lambda to kappa.  Very weird!  I am told this can happen in about five percent of the people with Multiple Myeloma.  Again, I guess I won the lottery.  Maybe I should be buying more Lotto tickets!

Another word of warning: sixteen years ago when I was initially being treated for my Multiple Myeloma,  in their efforts to reduce the level of cancer so I could have an auto-stem cell transplant they gave me a combination of drugs that included platinum.  Well, it did a terrible number on my kidneys.  I eventually recovered but my kidneys have been compromised ever since.  I don’t know if they prescribe that anymore, but keep this in mind and talk with your doctor about it if you hear they want to give you a drug with platinum in it.

Something to know about Multiple Myeloma is that even if your initial treatments are successful at eliminating its presence, it is highly likely that it will eventually come back on you.  They call this a recurrence.  The thing to remember is this is very likely to happen to you, and you should not panic when it does happen.  It does not mean this is the end of the line.  It means you and your doctor need to decide on the next treatment option – of which there are many! – to throw at it to knock it back down.  And then again and again as you work down the list of treatment options and keep buying time.  And hopefully before we run out of options they will have discovered a cure.  Please God!

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