Receiving a diagnosis of multiple myeloma is daunting, and even more so when you’re an expat living abroad. But I was lucky – there’s a hospital with one of Europe’s leaders in Multiple Myeloma in my town, and I was able to get into a trial with carfilzomib, dexamethason and thalidomide to treat newly diagnosed patients.
After a year of treatment – 4 months of chemo, autologous stem cell transplant, and 4 more months of consolidation chemo – I am in stringent complete remission and life has returned to normal.
I finished treatment a year ago and since then, I’ve traveled to Seoul for work, to Botswana on safari, walked 112 km of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, hiked high in the Swiss Alps, and last week I was skiing in the Austrian Alps. I was able to work on a reduced schedule all through my year of treatment, with the exception of a month after transplant.
I was lucky in that my myeloma was found relatively early (Stage 2) and responded quickly and well to treatment. I urge anyone with symptoms or fears to be tested – if you have it, the sooner you start treatment, the better.
This beast CAN be tamed, or at least lived with. And if you are diagnosed, get yourself into as good condition as you can – it will help you in your fight against it. Eat a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies, drink LOTS of water, at least 2 liters every single day, get 8 hours of sleep per night. And – at least while in chemo – forgo alcohol (not even a glass of champagne on New Years Eve). I had a year of some interruptions, but now my life has returned to normal and I can often forget that I am living with this disease.