I remember sitting there, waiting to hear about a muscle I had pulled or maybe a fracture, but never a tumor. However, I have cancer. I sat in the parking lot, not knowing how to feel. At that point, I had so many questions. I had no information other than the fact that I needed to get to an oncologist because a tumor was attached to my T2 vertebra and had destroyed it. But one thing I knew for certain was that I was no longer the same man I was when I walked into the doctor’s office, and I never dreamed of being where I am now.
So, what is my myeloma story? Growth. I have grown so much in the past 7 years, and so has my family, and wow—the world of myeloma has grown in the past 7 years.
Let’s start with me and my growth. I have grown professionally and have been promoted to supervisor at my shop. I now wear many different hats to manage and maintain my areas of production. I have also gone from reaching out to a support group, looking for guidance and a group of people who might know what I am going through, to be a support group leader, talking to people about different treatments and relating to them to let them know that we will make it through this together. In both my role at work and as a group leader, I have to be humble and confident.
As for my family, when I started down this journey, I had my oldest daughter, Tess, and Nicole and I had just started dating. Now, we have been together for 8 years, bought a house together, vehicles together, done the most grown-up things like buying appliances, and to top it off, we have had 3 kids together. I now have 4 beautiful daughters aged 16, 4, and 2 (the twins).
Lastly, myeloma’s growth has grown with me, not just for me. I remember sitting and talking about what we would do for treatments and how a stem cell transplant would be my best option for long-term remission. My brother is a 99% match as a donor, and we decided to go that route. To fast forward, when I wanted to trial CAR-T, the Allogenic transplant took me out of the running. However, I was asked to participate in the early trials for Allogenic transplants. I have now gone to ASH and been blown away by all the research being done by so many different groups on everything from the medicines we need to take to keep this beast at bay to trying to find out what is causing this to happen to us lucky people.
I have now relapsed for the 4th time and am going back into active treatment with the utmost confidence that I will beat this again. With the support of my family, the responsibility I feel to be at my job, and all the amazing growth in myeloma treatments, I know I will be able to put this back in remission as many times as I need to. So, “growth” is what my myeloma is.