Lucky me, finally diagnosed with a “hard to diagnose” cancer, Multiple Myeloma.

My story begins finding me in what can only be described as utter desperation. Who knows how long I was really sick?! My back hurt and my ribs were killing me for what felt like forever. As I look back on it, it was at least a year and a half. In that time, I tried everything, and I mean everything. Massage, yoga, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, pain clinics and every vitamin and magic potion imaginable.

At one point, I even ended up in the emergency room. I couldn’t move, simply couldn’t get out of bed. I had chest x-rays numerous times because I was constantly sick and coughing. On my trip to the emergency room, it was strongly recommended that I see a cardiologist. I had every test under the sun, stress tests, ultra sounds and enough ekg’s to make my head spin. All that, and still no diagnosis. I asked her six different times, “do you think I could have some kind of cancer”? I was still coughing.

Out of shear frustration, I went to an ENT group and threw myself at their feet thinking that if they could at least clear up this cough, I wouldn’t want to jump off of a bridge every time that I coughed. They gave me so many antibiotics that it caused me to get a urinary tract infection. My break-through came here…. My urologist was the first doctor in this odyssey that knew me. He knew that I was in grave condition and that something was really wrong with me. He sent me to his own personal doctor. He called him on his cellular phone and asked him to see me immediately. I was there an hour later. Two days later I was having emergency, life saving surgery for pleurisy. It was during this surgery called a plural effusion that lesions on my spine and ribs were clearly evident. It was in the recovery room that I was introduced to a new member of the team…. my oncologist.

There are two things about my story that I would like to share:

1. Go to a doctor that you know and that really knows you. Had I been to anyone in the chain that knew me, perhaps I wouldn’t have presented with stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. Curiously, many, many people present with stage 3… there are only 3 stages with Multiple Myeloma. Rib pain is a classic symptom of Multiple Myeloma.

2. Run, don’t walk to a Multiple Myeloma specialist. Do not risk your treatment and ultimately your life with a cancer generalist. In closing, a new group member in the Multiple Myeloma group that I attend and I were chatting. I mentioned my success at a major center in Houston, Texas where I stayed for 4+ months. Her immediate reaction was that she wouldn’t even consider such a thing as it would be just too “inconvenient”. Folks, there isn’t a thing about Multiple Myeloma that is convenient, sorry. Good luck to us all!

— Matt M.