In 2004 my wife and I participated in our annual physical at Madigan Army Hospital. Everything was fine except my wife had an evaluation from a contract physician. We received a call from Madigan that my wife’s protein level needed to be retested. The Army physician indicated that my wife had mgus? Our initial thought was, “what the hell is that?”

As snowbirds, we left for Yuma and had a second analysis, with a complete bone scan, and the results were the same, multiple myeloma! A cancer with no cure! We returned to home in Gig Harbor and requested from Madigan a third opinion.

We participated in a test in Seattle at the UW Cancer Clinic/ Fred Hutchinson Clinic and the results were the same. We moved to Stevensville, Montana and researched who could help us best. Confronted with a disease that moved, “at the blinding speed of a glacier,” we selected Dr. Pat Beatty, st. Patrick’s Hospital, a physician with a PhD in the domain, “Multiple Myeloma.” His criteria was 3 month tests, and when the protein tests reached 6 or higher, his treatments would intensify.

New medical miracle treatments came on the field, Revlimid, and Velcade were used. Then we went to Salt Lake City for a stem cell treatment at a Mormon Hospital. This whole experience was angonizing at best.

There was a 30 day chemo treatment in which every cell in my wife’s body was refurbished at least five times. The trail to the bathroom was covered in towels as most of the time she could not make it to the bathroom in time. It reminded me of the times that we had babies in the house and the washer and dryer was constantly running. We recovered from that period and her protein was constant at or about 1.0. The lowest it has ever been.

Two years ago we went in for my wife’s breast test. Up jumped the devil and she wound up with a single breast removal. This saga is not over as she will have an evaluation to determine if she needs the other breast removed.

In the winter we live on a golf course in Arizona and she is a robust golfer. She is still the light of my life and I clearly remember Dr. Beatty saying, ” this is a terminal disease! ” then I recall, after about two years, ” We are all terminal.” Medicine, Dr. Beatty, positive outlook, and lots of prayer, have extended our life style. We would hope that this story provides hope and clarity for others! We have survived this challenge for over11 years! There are no problems in life, only “Challenges and opportunities!”

— Jim

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