I was diagnosed in July of 2011 after my doctor called me at work to tell me I needed to enter the hospital as soon as possible because my kidneys were shutting down. When I got to the hospital, my doctor was waiting for me along with a Nephrologist he had called in for a consult. My Nephrologist started by asking questions & taking down my medical history. The next morning he started testing by doing an ultrasound of my kidneys, then he said he wanted to do a biopsy. I gave permission & after the biopsy, he sent the specimen to LSU & asked for next day results. He told me he thought I had MM but wants to be sure. He also said he needs to call in an Oncologist. I knew then that it couldn’t be good.

The Oncologist came into my hospital room & said she needed to do a bone marrow biopsy so they can see if it is MM. She did the biopsy procedure on both hips and confirmed the MM. Then 2 days later I was on dialysis. I left the hospital after an 8 day stay & came home with a whole new life.

I couldn’t go back to work, so I went to file for disability Social Security which was first denied but after 4 months was approved. I stayed in my hometown for treatments which included Velcade, Dex & Revlamid. I was on dialysis 3 days a week and on those days was useless because I was so tired. At my daughters request, after she did research on MM, I went to MIRT in Little Rock for extensive testing everyday for a full week. Then I met with my first doctor who said the sooner I got there for treatment the sooner I could get off of dialysis because the longer you’re on dialysis the harder it is to get off because your kidneys become dependent on it. So, I entered the hospital in Little Rock for 20 days to undergo extensive Chemotherapy. They also collected my stem cells while I was there. I came home for about 2 weeks to rest, then went back on Novenber 1 for another round of Chemotherapy.

I left Little Rock the day before Thanksgiving & was so glad to come home. I stayed home until the day after Christmas when I returned to Little Rock again. The day after I got to Little Rock I started another round of Chemotherapy for 9 days and on Jan. 4, 2012 I had my first autologous stem cell transplant.

On January 31, 2012 I saw my doctor who told me I was in partial remission & said he wants to do another transplant after I go home to rest for a while. I returned to Little Rock on March 1, 2012 & started another round of Chemotherapy & had my 2nd stem cell transplant on March 13, 2012. I saw my doctor on March 30 and he said I was doing well and sent me home again. He said I was in complete remission.

I’ve had many bumps in the road, but I’m so thankful to be alive. I’ve been on Maintenance therapy of Velcade, & Dex once a week for 2 years & nightly Revlamid 10mg. Since December 2013, my body has started rejecting the Chemo. As of today, I’m not on anything because my platelets are so low (39) on Tuesday. So my local Oncologist is contacting Little Rock to get me back up there to get another bone marrow biopsy to see what’s going on. I told her that I prefer to think my body is saying no because enough is enough. Maybe I’m healed which would be the ultimate blessing. I hope my story will touch or help someone.

— Jo Ann W.

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