I was inspired to write this blog by a fellow myeloma sufferer, EJBones, who I think expresses herself really well. Unfortunately I fear she is a little further down her myeloma journey than myself which saddens me greatly as she seems like a young lady with so much more to give and I must remain optimistic that very soon a cure will be found for this nasty disease. .
The purpose for me sharing this is to bring into your awareness a bit more about this particular cancer. I believe the more we talk and understand about it, the more likely a cure will be found.
Myeloma, also known as Multiple Myeloma, is a type of blood cancer arising from plasma cells which are found in the bone marrow. There are about 4,000 new cases per year in the UK.
In myeloma, the DNA of a plasma cell is damaged causing it to become malignant (cancerous). These abnormal plasma cells are known as myeloma cells.
Generally, the causes of myeloma are not known. Exposure to certain chemicals, radiation, viruses and a weakened immune system are thought to be potential causes or trigger factors. It is possible that myeloma develops when a susceptible individual has been exposed to one or more of these factors. I have never been someone who has been particularly sick or suffered from a weakened immune system, or that I am aware, been particularly exposed to any of the above mentioned.
Unlike many cancers, myeloma does not exist as a lump or tumour. Instead, myeloma cells divide and expand within the bone marrow.
Myeloma can affect multiple locations in the body where bone marrow is present. This is why it is often called Multiple Myeloma. The bones of the spine, skull, pelvis, ribs and around the shoulders and hips are all common places where myeloma can occur.
Bone marrow is the ‘spongy’ material found in the bones that produces blood cells i.e. white cells, red cells and platelets. Plasma cells form part of your immune system
Normal plasma cells produce antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) to help fight infection. In myeloma, malignant plasma cells (myeloma cells) in the bone marrow produce large amounts of an abnormal antibody known as paraprotein. Unlike normal antibodies, paraprotein lacks the capacity to fight infection and has no useful function.
It is often through the measurement of this paraprotein that myeloma is diagnosed and monitored. It was during a routine blood test that an increase in my para protein levels were detected.
Currently, there is no known cure for myeloma but it can be effectively treated. Myeloma is a very individual cancer and therefore it can be difficult to predict with any degree of certainty how well patients will do on treatment and how long they are likely to live.
Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that five-year survival rates in myeloma are increasing at one of the fastest paces among all cancer types in the UK.
Previous studies have suggested that over 10% of patients will survive for more than 10 years. However, this study related to patients diagnosed some time ago therefore it is very likely that this figure will be even better now.
Looking forward, it is hoped that these improvements will continue. Over the past five to 10 years there has been a significant increase in the number of drugs available to treat myeloma and this has helped improve survival and improve the quality of life of myeloma patients.
Researchers are continuously increasing their knowledge of the genetics of myeloma and this is likely to lead to tailored treatment for individual patients – maximising a patient’s response to treatment as well as minimising treatment side-effects.
Research into cancer cures is expensive, so I appeal to you that if you do feel that you are able or want to give to charity could I be so bold to recommend Myeloma Research. I will be using my exciting forth coming summer party to try to raise as much funds as possible but thought it worth providing a link where people can give if they want to. Please don’t feel obliged I know there are lots of charities out there that need our help its just that this one in particular, is close to my heart at the moment.
Make a donation to Myeloma UK by SMS text message. It’s quick, easy and best of all it’s free from any UK mobile network. This means that 100% of your donation, including Gift Aid, will go directly to helping people affected by myeloma.
To make a donation, text GDON02 £xx(xx is the amount in pounds you wish to donate) to 70070.
Or use this link to Donate at the Myloma UK website http://www.myeloma.org.uk/get-involved/donate/donate-now/
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