Big EZ is Ernie's nickname, and what he is lovingly called by many family members and friends. The nickname originally started out as "Big E" but gradually changed to "Big EZ"... and that's what stuck! We titled the blog "Walking with Big EZ" because that is what our family is doing through this trial...walking together! We hope you'll stop by often for updates and prayer requests so you can join us in walking with Big EZ.
Our journey began in the Fall of 2009 as EZ started to experience increasing back pain. After seeing a chiropractor and two different orthopedic specialists whose treatment plans did not bring relief, an MRI was done on January 4, 2010. On January 5th we were told that "abnormal cells" were detected, and to our complete shock, words like "lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma" were mentioned for the first time. On January 7th his employer let him go as a VP in a small company, telling him his services were no longer needed. A week later a biopsy was performed, and a plasmacytoma was detected on EZ's sacrum. We visited our oncologist the very next day to begin further testing to determine the extent of the myeloma. Multiple Myeloma was confirmed on January 29th, and so our three phase treatment plan began: Phase I - Induction Therapy, Phase II - Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, Phase III - Maintenance.
1. The MRI on 1/4/10 revealed:
- Large expansile soft tissue mass involving the sacrum with abnormal soft tissue extending along the sacral nerve roots into the inferior spinal canal to the level of L4-L5. Multilevel degenerative disc disease. (Another MRI from 3/20/10 revealed: partial compression deformities at L4 and L5, and altered bony architecture throughout the sacrum with extensive bony destruction.)
- M-spike 2, WBC - 7.0, Hemoglobin- 12.0, Platelets - 200 K
- 20-30% plasma cells, monoclonal IgA kappa plasma cell population
- Cytogenic studies revealed trisomy 3, but negative for both a deletion of RB1 on chromosome 13 and a deletion of TP35 on chromosome 17.
- Multiple punched-out lesions involving the skull, bilateral humeri and left femur
By the end of April, there was no detectable M-spike and home health physical therapy began to help EZ regain strength as he moved toward transplant. He went from a walker to a cane, and worked diligently to build up his endurance.
The month of August was spent preparing for stem cell transplant with Dr. Cristina Gasparetto at the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic. A Hickman catheter was inserted on August 5th and Cytoxan chemotherapy and mesna were given that same day at Duke. Neupogen injections at home began the next week, and 8 million healthy eells were harvested on August 17th. Melphalan chemotherapy was given on August 24th, and on August 25th he received his healthy stem cells back to begin again. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG EZ! After living in an apartment nearby the hospital for 17 days, he was discharged to go home on September 10th to continue his recuperation.
Our journey continued when a daily 10 mg. Revlimid capsule was introduced for maintenance. He
remained in Complete Response (CR) with no detectable M-spike until January of 2017 when his M-spike began to slowly creep up. He relapsed, had a Power Port implanted at the end of September, and began active treatment. He remained in treatment to get things back under control, and completed a 2nd transplant at Duke on June 6, 2018, to hopefully bring about another prolonged remission. However, he relapsed after seven months, and passed away from Multiple Myeloma on April 26, 2019.