Ok so I thought that I’d take a different approach to this post given that I’ve got to write more than two a fortnight for the next year! My health seems to be doing ok at the moment with me remaining in remission. My hormones have settled a little with the help of HRT and, dare I say it, antidepressants. So life has, instead, been taken over by my 40 Challenges B4 40. But I doubt that you all want an ongoing conversation about that and nothing else. My plan therefore, is to try to put some substance into my blog. Although I also plan to list a challenge a week…who knows, it might spur someone into being able to help me!
So to get the Challenge side completed, I thought I’d start with Challenge No 2 (even I have to admit that Challenge No 1 isn’t likely to go ahead sadly :-( ) but No.2 is one that I hope will be relatively straight forward to plan….’Climb 40 Floors in a Building’. Now I used to work at HSBC in Canary Wharf, so I’m hoping that I can find a friend from there to sort that one out! However, if anyone else has any fantastic ideas, please let me know!
So in terms of some sort of substance, I thought I’d try to give a bit of an overview of various aspects of Multiple Myeloma.. Before I start though, I should clarify that I am no medical expert. In fact, I tend to find that information about myeloma often goes in one ear and out the other….and I have a vested interest in it! I can only speak from my own experience, and if there is one thing that I have learnt about myeloma and how it impacts people, it is that it is totally individual. No-one seems to have the same symptoms, the same treatments, or be measured using the same indicators. It often baffles me, so I would imagine that it baffles those around me too!
What is Multiple Myeloma?
Well, myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, i.e a type of blood cancer. Basically these cells are meant to produce antibodies to fight infection, but with myeloma they mutate and rather than producing antibodies they produce a useless antibody called a paraprotein. Lots of you may hear me talking about what my paraprotein levels are, and this might help to explain why. The more than I have, the more likely it is that the myeloma is getting stronger in my body – this gives my consultant the ability to then give me a more accurate bone marrow biopsy and x-rays if she thinks that my levels get too high. Obviously they don’t want to be doing biopsies and x-rays unless they have good reason.
The reason it is called Multiple Myeloma is because of it being a cancer of the blood. This means that it can do damage at many sites around the body – basically it tends to affect places where the bone marrow is active like the bones of the spine, skull, pelvis and the rib cage. The more of these abnormal cells a myeloma patient has, the more likely they are to experience damage as the myeloma moves into the bone and makes it weaker or causes lesions. In addition, the breakdown of bone, can increase the calcium levels in the blood and this can cause problems for the kidneys which stop being able to filter the blood properly. For those who are hit hard, it really can be a very painful and difficult cancer. For me, I was lucky as I was diagnosed early and before I saw many symptoms. To date, I haven’t really had any bone or kidney problems – I know that I have my GP surgery to thank for this!
Myeloma currently isn’t curable. It can be treated when it is symptomatic and for those of us who are lucky like me, this puts us into a remission.Mine has currently been 2.5 years and there are people (albeit a very few) who get over 10 years of remission. These figures seem to be getting greater thanks to the great work that researchers, consultants, and charities like Myeloma UK are undertaking. I finally feel positive about my myeloma and I think I’ll probably write a post about that down the line! Hopefully I won’t relapse before I get round to it!
It would be interesting to know if people have things they don’t understand that they would like to know more about. I’ll try to keep my posts brief…if they aren’t interesting at all, let me know and I can stop too! And if I get anything wrong, please, please make a comment at the bottom so that people can get the right information! Thanks!