Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thankful Thursdays: Surviving My First Year with Multiple Myeloma

One year ago, Tuesday, January 5th, 2010, my orthopedic physician said those dreaded words "Your MRI shows a soft tissue mass on your sacrum. We need to schedule a biopsy to see exactly what it is."  Words like lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma were thrown around and we were in a state of shock. So began my journey with cancer. The past year has been a blur of doctors appointments, radiation and chemo treatments, a lengthy hospital stay, a stem cell transplant and physical therapy. Along with that came an education in cancer terminology, pain, and in life: Multiple Myeloma, blood cancers, plasmacytomas, bone marrow biopsies, Hickman catheters, ports, intrathecal pumps, M-spike protein, infusion therapy, Velcade, Thalidomide, Dexamethasone, Oxycontonin, Lyrica, Valtrex, humility, sacrifice, caregiver dedication, and unconditional, complete love from my family and friends.

It has been a tough year, but a good year, and as I look back I am very thankful for:
  • my loving wife/caregiver who puts my needs above hers each and every day
  • a loving family who sacrificed time, energy, and resources to assist us 
  • my wonderful parents and a beautiful mother in law who treats me as her own
  • the many many special folks that prayed constantly for us this year. Many of those I did not know, but learned of my situation through bible studies and church prayer groups
  • friends who stood by our side and orchestrated a fantastic fundraiser:  Standing in the Gap, raising funds to cover medical expenses for several years
  • a loving and supportive Stony Hill Baptist Church family
  • Dr. Kritz, Jessica, and the caring staff at Cancer Centers of North Carolina
  • Dr. Gasparetto, Amanda, and the wonderful staff at the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic
  • the advancement of new treatments for MM, through organizations such as MMRF (Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation) and IMF (International Myeloma Foundation).  Some of my chemotherapy drugs were only FDA approved in 2008
  • blogs like Multiple Myeloma for Dummies that allow us to connect and share with others battling MM 
  • Dr. Suh, my orthopedist, who detected the tumor early enough so bone damage from MM was limited to my sacrum and a handful of lesions that otherwise did not cause fracture or completely limit mobility
  • my ability to stand and walk (a little more damage to the sacrum and I would probably be immobile)
  • a fast, positive decision on disability and an early retirement package that allowed us to stay in our home
  • minimal adverse reactions to the chemo, radiation and SCT
  • a new second birthday, August 25, 2010 (day of transplant)
  • hair that has come back softer, thicker and with less gray (However, I would not recommend MM as a hair treatment procedure, there are other means!)
  • forced early retirement that has given me precious time with my wife, family and friends
But most of all I am thankful for the saving Grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, who made miracle after miracle happen this past year. He was faithful in so many ways, walking with us, answering so many prayers, and providing His perfect timing with doctors, clinics, treatments, and financial assistance. I was constantly encouraged and at peace in a way that can only be made possible by Him. Casting Crowns says it best in "Praise You in This Storm"...take a minute and be blessed by this video.

Faith, Family and Friends. Without them I would not be able to handle the MM. I am extremely thankful.

I have much to be thankful for!!!
My family
Wonderful friends


  1. Dad, 1/5/10 marked a day that changed our lives forever. As that date passed this year, I too thought about how its been 1 year. I couldn't help but cry in gratitude for where we are 1 year later. You are in remission, you have successfully completed chemo, radiation, and a stem cell transplant, God provided financially for your needs, and you are still my next door neighbor. Plus, I too, am so thankful for your early retirement and all the time we get to spend with you. We never take it for granted. I love you so much and am so proud of you and all that God has done in you over the last year!!!!

  2. Big EZ and Linda,
    My name is Vannette. My husband, Glen, was diagnosed with MM the first week of July 2010. He is 54 years old. We live in Utah. Recently we met a woman with MM who is a blogger. Through reading her posts I have been led to yours. May I say simply that the two of you inspire me. I have found comfort in your words. Glen and I have so far to go and so much to learn. We too have a strong believe in God and know that all things happen through Him. Thank you for the support you have given through your words. You probably don't know how many lives you have touched and encouraged. I am happy for you that you are doing well. Continue to take care, Vannette Ross, Arcadia, UT

  3. it's so...beyond words how many lives you've touched and how you have been so faitful and encouraged so many others. this post should be part of a devotional. we love you all so much.