In 2013-14 I went from doctor to doctor to doctor…a 5 day stay in a hospital, trying physical therapy, pain meds, and injections at a pain clinic for about a year. During that year, of not being diagnosed with anything, bones in my back, ribs, and sacrum were fracturing. FINALLY, in June of 2014, I was put in touch with a VP from Spectrum Health, who is a neighbor of one of our daughters. I think my guardian angel was at work! 🙂 The first thing the oncologist, to whom she referred me, did was a hip biopsy & diagnosed Multiple Myeloma cancer. What a shock! I had always been relatively healthy and active, until I could no longer stand. My doctor, recommended a stem cell transplant and, after a bit of decision making time, I agreed to that.

That process took my blood through a machine that separated out stem cells. They were sent to a special lab to be treated, then returned, frozen, to my bedside for infusion back into me. I was in the hospital for 13 days (within the average) and did have a LARGE dose of chemotherapy before the infusion. Eventually, from that, I lost my hair, but it grew back quite curly.  This entire process was not any fun. My taste buds had changed, and everything tasted like wet cardboard; so, I couldn’t swallow it. I was down to 105 pounds before I was able to eat again. My husband, the BEST caregiver ever!!! would strongly encourage me, usually to no avail – in fact, he did yell, but for my good.

When I first started seeing my oncologist, he said “the protocol I will put you on now, may be changed the next time I see you, because advances in this field are happening EVERY SINGLE day.”

I have been on many medications for pain and the cancer, including a VERY expensive one that, had I not received a grant, I would not have been able to afford. Through this journey, I have learned that there are many things I can no longer do (tennis, etc), but have found others I can do. I have learned that, when the pain in my back begins to worsen, I need to sit down which has never been me, but it is my “New normal.”

As of today, there still is no cure, but longevity has increased.

— Geri K.