I was way too young to be diagnosed with an “older man’s cancer.” At 42, I was generally healthy and active, but I had been experiencing back pain on and off for many years. Always thinking it was muscular, I ignored it and took muscle relaxers. When it got so bad I couldn’t move after an 11-hour trip to my brother’s wedding in December 2007, my sister, who is a radiologist, ordered me to get an MRI, which revealed tumors throughout my spine. Subsequent x-rays and scans revealed tumors pretty much everywhere.

I had vertebral kyphoplasty #1 in February 2008 to attempt to repair the first broken vertebra, then kypho #2 a couple weeks later to repair the one I broke not long after the first surgery. Two rounds of a cocktail of Velcade, Thalidomide, and Dex got me to a complete response. Since then, I have been on Revlimid for maintenance.

I lost my father at the age of 45 to leukemia. We were unknowingly exposed to radiation in Colorado when I was a little girl. My father died 30 years ago without the aid of a bone marrow registry or the drugs that have come from incredible research in blood cancers in the last several years.

I am truly grateful for organizations like IMF, who are there for the patients, provide any and all help they can, and are a critical presence in educating us about cutting edge research in multiple myeloma.

— Susan M. 

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