D’OH!!! Lack of awareness, delayed diagnosis, wrong diagnosis, poor first treatments MUST be what makes early survival so terrible. I remember when I went to the doctor for high blood pressure and fatigue, and he decided to give me a blood test just because I had not had one in a year and found I had kidney failure. His first thought was that I had worked outside in the heat and was dehydrated and this was the probable cause. I then went to the hospital and they said it was likely one of three possibilities, most likely dehydration with the last and least likely was cancer. Tests finally turned out that it was myeloma. I was lucky that I was diagnosed just a week after I was checked by my doctor for fatigue. Prior to this I had noticed that if I bleed, it would take forever to stop. I thought that was odd, but now know it was due to very low platelets, and my fatigue was caused by a very low red blood cell count.
So if awareness and knowledge can SAVE LIFE, we need people to understand how important it is to know the symptoms of myeloma and the way standard blood test results can help to show that myeloma may be present. From the American Cancer Society web site I found a summary which may just help to educate the yet to be diagnosed. It outlines the symptoms, a few of which are anemia, frequent infections, nerve tingling and damage, bleeding that will not stop, bone breaks in the spine and ribs, confusion, and kidney damage. A standard blood test can be an indicator of possible trouble, even if you show no symptoms. Low red blood cell count, low platelets, high calcium, low white blood cell counts, excess protein in the blood, and more depending on the number of variables tested. A better more extensive list of symptoms and the many diagnostic tests are available at the American Cancer Society site which you can read if you CLICK HERE.
For years the IMF and MMRF and LLS organizations have worked to get the word out, and with all of their fine efforts, myeloma is still an unknown orphan among cancers. Maybe we need a champion, someone like Katie Couric who has accomplished so much in the area of colorectal cancer screening. Since Katie took this as her cause after her husband was taken from her by colorectal cancer, colorectal screenings have increased to 64% for people over 50, and deaths have fallen by 30% because of this awareness of the need for screening. That is 21,561 fewer deaths each and every year. You can read about the remarkable drop in colorrectal cancer due to awareness of the need for screening if you CLICK HERE. Lacking a champion, it is up to the myeloma organizations and patient advocates to continue our efforts at MYELOMA AWARENESS.
One way for YOU to help with Myeloma awareness is by getting this message out to your facebook, twitter or other social media contacts. You may not know someone with myeloma but your contacts might, and you may just help to SAVE LIFE! Just Click the Twitter and Facebook icons at the end of this post.