In 1992, at the age of forty, I developed a very bad backache. It started on my L5 bone, the lower right side. I went from doctor to doctor without any success. I was told that I had muscle strain and to take tylenol.  

It lasted about 5 or 6 months until finally April 30 1992 I collapsed in my bedroom. I was taken to the hospital and my orthopedic doctor who had misdiagnosed me all those months decided it was time to do an MRI.

Two days later it was discovered I had a plasma cytoma on my L5 bone that had exploded. The doctors decided to give me prednisone , dexamethasone and 30 days of radiation.

I was told that after five years of followup, if all went well, I would be in remission and not to worry anymore.

Almost ten years to the day my back pain returned and I was checked into the hospital again . I was having trouble breathing. After a series of tests it was determined I had full blown multiple myeloma that had spread everywhere.

My doctor informed me that is was imperative that I have a stem cell transplant. I was being taken care of at the Cornell Weill hospital in New York City. After a few months of pill treatment I was set up to have my stem cells taken out in December 2002.

I had to be in the hospital for five weeks. On January 6 2003 I was given the transplant of my own sweet stem cells. I remember asking the doctor how do they know where to go? He just said they know where to go.

It is now eleven years that I am in remission. I was blessed that the transplant worked and I have been relatively healthy ever since. I do have some back pain and it is very tolerable. I was blessed with a great team of doctors. I know that at some point there may be some more symptoms again and from what I understand there are so many more ways to treat the disease… is much more promising.

I am a two time survivor. So do not despair….just have the attitude that you will beat this…I am a testament to this.  God bless all of you and good luck to all.

— Joan G.

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