In October of 2010, I was figure skating and as I entered a spin I felt extreme pain in my lower back. After over the counter drugs didn’t seem to help, I went to a doctor who x-rayed my back and proclaimed I had a lot of arthritis (due to many falls taken figure skating). He told me no more jumping or impact sports and recommended yoga. He also gave me prescription pain meds. I tried yoga and even sports massage, but the pain never got better, so I scheduled an appointment with an orthopedist. In late December, a few days before the orthopedist appointment, the pain was so severe I couldn’t get out of bed. My husband called an ambulance. It took 3 firefighters and 2 paramedics to put me on the stretcher to take me to the hospital.
After x-rays and a CT scan, the emergency room doctor told me the pain was caused by a collapsed L2 vertebrae and I had lesions on some of my other vertebrae which were all caused by a cancer called Multiple Myeloma. They admitted me to the hospital. Here’s what went through my mind: Cancer? At age 47? But, I’m in great physical shape, or was! Am I gonna die? Will life ever be normal again? Will I ever walk, skate, or even lead an active life again?
After 4 days in the hospital and numerous tests, multiple myeloma was confirmed, my pain was under control, I was fitted with a body brace and sent home. A few days later, January, 2011, my oncologist told me “we’ve got this” and eventually, I’d be fine. He did an MRI and skeletal survey and determined that, in addition to the lesions on my spine, I had lesions on my thigh, hip and arm bones. The collapsed vertebrae was repaired with a vertebroplasty. I was treated for 4 months with velcade, dexamethasone and revlimid and achieved a complete remission.
During that time, I began to do yoga and was able to do a little figure skating. Next, I had an autologous stem cell transplant which resulted in a stringent complete remission. After the transplant I had monthly infusions of Zometa for 2 years and took Revlimid for 3 years. Now, almost 4 years later, I am happy to say that I am still in stringent complete remission.
2 months after the transplant I returned to figure skating and, 6 months after the transplant, I returned to teaching figure skating classes. I can jump and spin again and still take some falls. I have passed 2 United States Figure Skating tests (one being the adult gold test- the highest adult level) and competed again last year, skating a 2 minute 40 second program.
My recovery has been remarkable and I am stronger and more active than ever. Every day I am thankful for modern medicine and the prayers and positive thoughts of my family and friends. My life is relatively normal – except for the annual testing at the transplant clinic and visits to the oncologist every few months. Also, I have met some truly exceptional people through mentoring myeloma patients.