Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some of our Answers May Surprise You

Here you go...our answers to questions. Many thanks to those who asked (all family members - ha!) Pictures show we enjoy a common theme...beautiful mountains and crystal clear water! No Nick, you may not take off tomorrow for any of these places!

1. Favorite place we've traveled to: Canadian Rockies (Banff, Jasper, Yoho National Parks), followed by Hawaii

2. Places we'd like to travel to: Australia/New Zealand/Fiji, Alaska (cruise with excursions beginning in Vancouver)

3. Where we would like to live if we could live anywhere in the world: We would never want to move away from family, but if everyone would move with us, Switzerland looks inviting!

4. Favorite memories of the kids: There are sooooo many, but here are a few favorites: 1. snorkeling with them in Kauai (Nick's fish food burst out causing an invasion of fish), seeing spinner dolphins everywhere, swimming with sea turtles and even seeing a whale and calf; 2. kidnapping them after school and surprising them with a flight to Disney World, staying at Ft. Wilderness; 3. Renting a motor home and camping through the Canadian Rockies, taking a train ride through spiral tunnels, enjoying a boat ride on glacial lakes, seeing moose, mountain goats, marmots, magpies, elk and so much more! Can tell our family loves to travel?

5. How does Big E feel wearing a Duke hat (considering his son is a UNC Alumnus)? - He does feel a little "Devilish" when he wears the hat.

6. Did anything cause or contribute to E's cancer? - From the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation: to date no cause for this disease has been identified. However, the search for a cause has suggested possible associations between myeloma and a decline in the immune system, genetic factors, certain occupations, certain viruses, exposure to certain chemicals including Agent Orange, and exposure to radiation.

People in agricultural occupations, petroleum workers, workers in leather industries, and cosmetologists all seem to have a higher-than-average chance of developing multiple myeloma. Exposure to herbicides, insecticides, petroleum products, heavy metals, plastics, and various dusts including asbestos also appear to be risk factors for the disease.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have found that almost all people with multiple myeloma have genetic abnormalities in their plasma cells that probably contributed to the cancer. For example, many myeloma cells are missing all or part of one chromosome — chromosome 13. Cells with a missing or defective chromosome 13 tend to be more aggressive and harder to treat than are cells with a normal chromosome 13. These abnormalities have an important influence on disease outcome.

The higher incidence of myeloma in African Americans and the much less frequent occurrence in Asians does suggest genetic factors. While it is uncommon for myeloma to develop in more than one family member, there is a slight increased risk among children and siblings of those with myeloma. (Scarey, so we are going to ask our doctor if she recommends screening or genetic testing for Ernie's children or siblings.)

It is important to remember that in most cases, individuals who develop multiple myeloma have no clear risk factors. Myeloma may be the result of several factors acting together. Multiple myeloma isn't contagious.

According to the Mayo Clinic: some factors that may increase your risk of multiple myeloma include:

Age. The majority of people who develop multiple myeloma are older than 50, with most diagnosed in their mid-60s. Few cases occur in people younger than 40.

Sex. Men are more likely to develop the disease than are women.

Race. Blacks are about twice as likely to develop multiple myeloma as are whites.

History of a monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. Every year 1 percent of the people with MGUS in the United States develop multiple myeloma.

Obesity. Your risk of multiple myeloma is increased if you're overweight or obese.

Ernie is male, over 50, and overweight, but other than that we don't know of anything he was exposed to or other risk factors he would meet to have caused his MM.

7. Why did it start in his sacrum? Were there any signs? We don't know why it started in the sacrum because typically it shows up through a fracture in a long arm, leg, or back bone.

Although it also occurred in Ernie's left femur, both upper arms and the skull, it was diagnosed before fracture because of the persistent pain when sitting. Ernie's symptoms, including sciatic nerve pain down the legs, mimic degenerative disc disease and stenosis and because he was otherwise healthy, the doctors didn't suspect something as serious as blood cancer. MM doesn't show up in simple blood and urine tests done with yearly physicals. We certainly wish there was a screening test routinely done for people that meet many of the risk factors, but we don't know of one.

Thanks for the questions and we hope this has provided some insight into our family and MM!


  1. Switzerland huh?? Never would have guessed that one. Love all your answers!

  2. All your answers were great! I loved learning more about you!

  3. Great post!

    Although I didn't get the memo that the questions were suppose to be "those type" of questions :-) Mine were so...serious...I want a redo ;-)

    Where did you two go on your first date?

  4. Mindy, your questions were great! We had never discussed those things on the blog before, and they are so helpful for ALL to know. I'm glad you asked them!

    And Mom and Dad, I think you all have the travel bug! All your answers dealt with places to go:) But I can't blame you: Hawaii, Alaska, Switzerland...Sign me up for going there with you! As soon as Dad can sit again (and hence fly!) we will plan a celebration trip!

  5. Mindy I was surprised about the non cancer related questions...I expected them to be like what you asked! So for your re-do, our first date was a bike ride to Winter Park. Problem was, I didn't even own a bike and had to borrow my neighbor's and PRACTICE riding it! Of course I bought a new shorts outfit for the occasion and miraculously didn't crash. However, Ernie's bike got a flat tire in Winter Park, and we walked our bikes back the entire way (maybe 5 miles!). I have never been an athlete so that was a major feat for me...and that's how it all began back in 1973!!

  6. such awesome pictures and places. can't wait to see where the lord takes you next. i'm terrible at thinking of the questions, but enjoyed the ones from others and all your answers. especially about your 1st date. tell us more.

  7. What a great first date memory! :-)