And change……

So unsurprisingly the Coronavirus has meant a total change in our life. Where to begin?

Well yesterday I was back to see the consultant. After my numbers going down the week before last, last week they went back up to 9.2. I’m sure there must be a better word than rollercoaster! Basically it means the graph shows my numbers as roughly staying the same. Which is definitely better than them rising. Before this week, I think they would have been considering hitting me with DT-Pace but because this blasts your immune system and would put me at greater risk of contracting Coronavirus, we’ve been told that both this, and Stem Cell Transplants have, unsurprisingly, all been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

So of course our next question was, what does this mean for me. The consultant is now happy, given the current climate, to see if the daratumumab can keep them at the current level till things blow over. Great. If it does. But what if not? Whilst the previous two options are now off the table for the time being, apparently if my numbers rise, the next option would be a drug called pomalidomide. This is in tablet form and in the same family as revlimid which kept me in remission for a long time. I tolerated that well although it is likely that my neutrophils will decrease which means I will still have lower immunity- so isolation again will be key.

I have to say I’m quite relieved. With everything that has been happening, we thought it was unlikely they’d still do transplants but I was concerned that there would be no alternatives and that they’d have to leave my numbers to just increase, risking bone damage and/or kidney damage. So I’m really relieved that this isn’t the case even if it does mean the whole situation has changed again. Better a different course of treatment than no treatment, or a treatment that would put me at major risk.

Last week Nick and I also started to talk seriously about what the virus might mean for our lifestyle and whether we were happy to wait to be told what to do or whether we should think ahead. We decided that we were getting more and more concerned about the risk that we were facing especially with the kids being at school and clubs every day.

Nick’s company had already contacted him at the beginning of the week to say he had been put on the ‘at risk’ list due to my myeloma and the treatment I’m on. This meant that he didn’t have to go to the same meetings, hospital visits etc that might normally have been part of his role, nor travel to London for unimportant meetings. So if he stayed off work, but we kept the kids at school, it felt like we were doing things in a very half arsed way!

By the following day things had moved on and most of his company was being told to work from home where possible and so we talked again and decided that we were going to email the school to tell them we’d be withdrawing them.

The kids haven’t loved the decision if I’m honest because they can’t see their friends but they have understood why we’ve done it. I’m not sure they particularly love our commitment to home schooling them – lol. We’ve been so lucky as the school has been amazing in their support in terms of a) agreeing they would support the decision and b) agreeing to get teachers to send work home each lesson. We’re ever so proud of how the kids are doing though – they’ve been following lesson plans each day and doing their homework. It’s not easy when you don’t get to see your friends at all at that age (or at my age!). I’m sort of hoping that schools close soon for their sake – they won’t feel so separate then. At least now most clubs have finished so they aren’t worried about missing out there.

At the same time as withdrawing them, Nick and I made the decision to self-isolate. Me totally and Nick as far as he can do whilst supporting us. We’re now 4 days in and I can promise you it isn’t easy so I can understand why the government wanted to wait to ask people to do it!! It’s amazing how many things you forget that you ‘pop out’ to do. Birthday cards, loaf of bread etc.

It’s also amazing how many things come into your home that have been touched. Most of us have probably seen the change in behaviour of amazon and Royal Mail but have you thought about wiping down packages when they come in. And what about your online food shop that so sensibly keeps you in isolation? Should every packet be wiped down? Or kept separate for 12 hours to and sure any viruses have died? Have I just become paranoid? All mad when you start thinking about it, but think about it we all should. This is really serious.

So yesterday most British people heard Boris Johnson and his team tell us that people like me, with myeloma, should isolate ourselves for 12 weeks. We got there first! But it’s going to be hard. Very hard. Especially once other groups get added to this, which I’m convinced they will be.

I can’t totally isolate as I have to go to hospital once a month for my treatment. But it sounds like that’ll be ask quick and careful as possible and I’ll be set back home to get results via the phone and not face to face. That suits me now that they aren’t planning to change much or move forward with the SCT. To be honest I think I’ll need that trip to stay anywhere near sane!!

I’m sure there’s more but my brain has gone for now so I’ll stop boring folk!

How communication makes all the difference

So we have met with the transplant consultant this week and things are a little bit clearer. Not much has changed but we understand it all a little better now which is helpful.

So one thing that he explained to us was that my paraprotein isn’t as low as they would want. I thought that because they are the same as when I had my first transplant, that they wouldn’t have an issue. But it seems that they look at the percentage decrease, and I’ve only reached about 60% where they’d want to see a decrease of about 80%. So, what does that actually mean. Well it seems that we’re going to keep watching for a couple of months. I come off my velcade (thank god!) after next Monday, and they think there is a chance that the Daratumabib has the possibility of kicking in again. If it does, and it takes my paraprotein lower, it might reach a level with which they are happy to proceed to transplant without any further treatment. Which would be great news.

If however, it doesn’t take my numbers any lower, or they start to increase, we may have to revert to the idea of DT-Pace. Yuck. However, at least now, whilst we know that it would be an awful treatment, that it would be the best option available and would give me a much better chance with the transplant. We’re still keeping our fingers crossed that the numbers keep going down though!

He also discussed my stored stem cells which have been at the Royal Marsden until recently. I was told that there weren’t enough, but it now seems that we might have. Apparently I’m very unusual because one test said there were enough and another said that there weren’t. Not what usually happens. So there are some questions to be asked to see which number is the most useful. And in the meantime, I’m going to try and lose some of the weight I’ve put on from a mixture of Dexamethasone (the steroid) and my total lack of willpower! Apparently, the result that says I don’t have enough stem cells, is linked to how many they need against body weight…..so whilst they haven’t said anything about losing weight, I’m thinking it can’t hurt*.

So in terms of dates, we don’t know much more. I think it’ll be April before we have much of a solid idea, and at that point, we’ll probably get told either a timescale for transplant, or that I’m going onto DT-Pace….or knowing my luck, something totally different!!

However, I’m hoping that in the meantime, that coming off the velcade might mean that the next couple of months are a little easier and that I start to feel a bit more human again. I have to say that the last few weeks have become harder and harder. I’ve been so tired that over half of my week has been wiped out. I haven’t even managed to walk Marley and have had to get the kids onto it. Rebecca even dealt with the builders last week, made them coffee and put a blanket over me while I slept for 3 hours. Poor kid. But I’m so proud of how they are coping whilst looking after me.

Anyway, the overall feeling is that by getting the information that we did on Monday, Nick and I both feel in a position that whatever decision they make moving forwards, we have 100% trust with what decisions they’re making, and why they’re making them. And that has to be good. The one thing I never want is to wish we’d done things differently.

* I’ve decided to give up processed sugar, crisps, nuts and takeaways for Lent – take a look at my #50B450 tab on this page.

Facing a New Future

Another post where I start writing it before I have all of the facts. I actually felt physically sick from my appointment yesterday. More worried than I’ve probably felt since I was first diagnosed back in 2009. I want to be honest but I’m actually quite scared about what honest might look like.

Yesterday, my consultant told me 2 things that weren’t great. He told me the lesser of the two things first: My stem cells – not enough were harvested back in 2011. Not a huge deal. It means I have to go through a stem cell harvest again (which I hadn’t wanted due to being really ill first time), but the process is easier at the QE with them not making you have chemo – just the G-CSF injections (these stimulate your body into making more stem cells).

So whilst this wasn’t the news I’d wanted after months of waiting to hear, it also didn’t feel like the end of the world. I could still harvest in March / April and have my transplant in April/May. This was scenario one.

However the second thing was: My Paraprotein levels look like they’ve plateaued. Now this could be ok if they decide they have only plateaued and aren’t rising. But his fear is that actually, they’d like them to be lower than what they are (9.4), and that if this is the case, they would like me to have some extra chemotherapy to really blast them before a transplant. This wouldn’t just be chemotherapy like I’ve been on for the last six months where a lot of life has been able to continue. This would be me on a cocktail of high dose drugs (called DT-Pace) that I would be given 24/7 for 4 days, and where it could take up to 28 days to recover (in hospital). This would probably be repeated at least twice in the hope that my paraprotein would decrease. Then I’d still have to go back for the Stem Cell Transplant after this where I would definitely be in hospital for 3 weeks. This DT-Pace would result in an earlier hair loss and being pretty poorly. And would really disrupt everything for the kids, and for Nick for an extra 4 months or so.

But what I’m really scared about is that it would mean that I’d be on my third line of treatment. With myeloma, every time you go down a different treatment route, you are getting closer to running out of options. First and second aren’t the end of the world. Third probably isn’t either. But if my myeloma has mutated that much, it might not respond to third line treatment either. And is less likely to give me as deep a response.

I have spent the last 8 years becoming a ‘glass half full’ person. I’ve tried so hard not to let myeloma dictate who I am, what I do, or allow it to negatively consume me. I think I’ve succeeded. But this is all very scary and I am back to that feeling of helplessness and a fear of what might happen in the future. I am so scared I won’t see the kids leave school, or graduate. Will we get to finish the house that Nick and I have been lovingly trying to renovate? Will I reach my 50th – something I took for granted even when I knew I was relapsing. I never thought I might not actually reach it.

I know this might be a tough post to read. Believe me, if it’s tough for you, it’s even tougher for me to live it. And for Nick.

So bear with us at the moment. We’re trying to work out our priorities. We’re trying to make the right decisions – for the four of us first and foremost. But then for everyone around us. And we don’t want to give up – there’s a long way to go.

2020 – A (Belated) New Year!

I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago at my last consultant appointment and forgot to post it so here it is with a postscript at the end!

Although my last post was written on Christmas Eve, looking back on it I must have been Hugh as a kite!! I hadn’t realised quite how bad it was until Nick told me on Christmas Day – by the end it didn’t make any sense at all! But the good news is that the sleeping tablets got me asleep and I had a much better Christmas because of it!

In fact we had a lovely Christmas and New Year. It was massively busy with guests but a great time of catching up with people and making the most of my health as it is at the moment.

And now we’re on the countdown. Or at least I am. Unless anything changes, I have 10 weeks left on treatment, before I have a 2 month break and then my second Stem Cell Transplant. I really do think myself lucky to have had 9 years inbetween my transplants but it doesn’t stop the interpretation that I’m feeling about going through it all again. We’ve got a date now for February to discuss the procedure (and how it might have changed from my first time) so that will be interesting … it has definitely made it feel more real!

But as for the here and now, things plod along really. As I said, I’m back on the velcade and it has hit me hard this week. It always seems to when I have a break! I slept for 3 hours last night (while the kids made their own dinner and sorted themselves out), and then got up this morning, pottered for half an hour and then was back in bed until it was time to leave for hospital at lunchtime! And I’m still exhausted and feeling. Very bizarre.

None of it is made easier by the fact I’ve now also been diagnosed with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). It basically means that the glands in my eyelids are blocked and so can’t secrete tears properly. So I either have really dry, itchy eyes, or I have tears rolling down my eyes! Normally the latter! It makes you just feel even more tired and blurry eyed than normal which I can’t imagine helps my overall feeling of wellbeing.

Haha. Also just had a letter today from Sajid Jarvis saying well done for winning the Helpline Volunteer of the Year Award! He’s our local MP but I was quite impressed that he wrote. I might even see if we can get him to donate something for Sam’s #15B415 challenge! Someone might want the normal bottle of wine that gets sent through, signed!

Postscript:

So not much to add since what I wrote above. Everything is still on track, and the sleeping tablets are continuing to help me to cope with the lack of sleep…although this week has been exhausting (but due to sorting my dads house all weekend and lots of wallpaper stripping!). I’m still waiting to hear whether my stem cells from first time round are viable but will hopefully find out next week….it’ll be a massive relief if they are!

In the meantime, I’m feeling pretty positive about the #50KB450 fundraising at the moment. We’re nearly at 10% already, much helped by asking people to donate instead of sending me bday cards this weekend! I’m also sending out lots of letters to businesses that I know to see if they can help as that’ll be my easiest way of raising money! Sam is doing really well with his #15B415 challenges (he’s raised over £1000 himself!), and all the other family and friends who have got involved have done amazingly well already, with more coming in all the time. I feel ever so humbled by how much people have been prepared to do!

Stanyan Street

The Oakland Gang: niece Tillie, me, Nephew Joey, my wife Marilyn, and Noah our oldest son.

Due to my cancer, multiple myeloma, the physical adventure of traveling challenges my attitude. I dislike flying: the herding, the depressing bag of pretzels, and the cabin’s claustrophobic fit. Yet, once again, my wife and I chose to spend the holidays in San Francisco’s Bay Area.

We stayed in Oakland at a hotel on Broadway, close to where our oldest son lives. We were joined by a niece, who lives and works in a town nearby and her brother, our nephew, who was visiting following the completion of his degree at Tufts University in Boston.

Lake Chalet

I’d arranged to re-schedule my twice monthly infusions so as to not interfere with our activities. My treatment also includes oral drugs, which can continue when I’m on the road. I take a chemo type pill once a day and a steroid once a week. I’ve become inured to the daily pill. Its side effects blend into the general fatigue syndrome that characterizes my blood cancer. The steroid, though, radically alters my mood, my energy, and, perhaps, my personality.

IMM

We dined at a number of excellent restaurants: Itani, brunch at Lake Chalet, The Berkeley Social Club,  a morning snack at The Rotunda on the first morning, the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast Christmas day, then Farley’s East on the penultimate morning. Prior to seeing the movie, Little Women, we ate Thai street food at IMM and finally a goodbye meal at Tay Ho, a French/Vietnamese restaurant.

The highlight, however, was Christmas dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s house in San Francisco. The Oakland gang merged with the San Francisco gang. 

Brother and Sister-in-Law’s house on Stanyan Street

The house sits near the top of Stanyan Street above Golden Gate Park. It is of Victorian vintage, built early in the twentieth century. (1904)

There are three levels situated on a steep slope adjacent to Sutro Forest. My brother and his wife live on the top floor. Their daughter and son-in-law and 12 year old grandson occupy the main floor. A laundry and storage, as well as a small studio apartment finish out the dwelling. There is also a two car garage, quite a luxury in parking starved San Francisco. They bought the house for $100,000 in 1973.

Oakland street art.

They admit to initially being anxious about the mortgage. At the time, my brother was a San Francisco fireman. His wife worked in medical research. She then chose to get a law degree and eventually became a patent attorney. Along the way, she also bore a child. By investing in their ingenuity, they were able to persevere through those early busy years. The house is now worth much, much more than the purchase price.

Stanyan Street

Main floor of the Rotunda in Oakland, CA

Christmas day was my steroid day. Under the influence of the drug, I sometimes jabber too much. I have also been known to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Such are the perils of the steroid high. My faux pas filter, however, managed to keep me out of trouble. The convivial conversation even  prompted me to toast the three family lines in attendance. 

But, the enduring star was the house itself. Nurtured by my brother and his wife through the years, it has hosted numerous events commemorating family passages. There was a going away party for my wife and I decades ago when we immigrated to New Zealand. Then, in the not too distant past, a support reunion party for me prior to my stem cell transplant.

Tay Ho

Furthermore, two of their granddaughters lived there while launching into adulthood. And, my SIL’s mother spent her final days in one of the downstairs apartments. Birth, death, and all the transitions in between: such is the legacy of the Stanyan Street house.

When the evening ended, my wife and I returned to Oakland with our son. The lights of the Bay Bridge glittered with holiday flair. My slumpiness from the myeloma had vanished temporarily, along with other aches and pains of disease and aging. The day’s activities had drained the jolt of energy caused by the drug. Yet, I still floated in the steroid’s groove and mused, without judgment, as to how my body is no longer entirely my own. It is managed, to a degree, by pharmaceuticals. That’s ok. I would not be alive without them. 

Worcester Rd – the new pharmacy!

As I started this blog this morning I was taking a wide variety of drugs and cocktails!

  1. Daratumamab – immunotherapy drug
  2. Velcade – chemo drug
  3. Dexamethasone – evil drug – should not be allowed past go. Ruins relationship, friendships and more!
  4. Lanziprazole – protects stomach…I think
  5. Co-trimoxazole – godminly knows, I just take them and hope!
  6. Pregablin – reduces impact of neuropathy in feet, calves and hopefully is reducing pain in back.
  7. Colosevelam – deals with mile-bilemalabsortion – don’t look that condition up if you’re eating!
  8. conjugated oestrogen – for early menopause that kicked in at 35
  9. Sertraline – for the depression that can’t help but find a homely place in our house with everything else that is going on! My saviour

But today I’ve been joined to another regime. And today……drum roll……-another one is joining the ranks in the form of ZOPICLONE – a sleeping tablet. And it’s already made me spaced out and unable to hold a straight line! Hoping I’ll be ok for tomorrow as driving to oxford to visit my dad!!

I’ve also been given next week off velcade and Dex so we can have some time where I’m fit enough to do some things. Hurrah! Bloody fantastic! Might even have a little topple for new year!

But it made sense to try as I’ve only been getting between 1and 4 hours on a Monday with Tuesday slightly better at around 6-8 hours. But I feel awful between Tuesday eve and Friday eve and it’s miserable. If sleep is anything to do with it, I’d like to vaguely enjoy Christmas Day! We’re cooking for 6 but hopefully will be organised enough we can look to the guests to help nick to wash and clear!

  • Remember
  • Don’t overdo it – it’s only one day
  • If you burn anything hide it and pretend you never had it on the menu
  • If you burn anything remember you’ll be eating twice your body weight for 6 hours solid so will be totally grateful it was one less thing to eat
  • When you look at yourself the next day and wonder why you ate everything you knew will make you fat, and a month to get off the hips, please don’t bore us all with your plans for the gym!!
  • When you say ‘I shouldn’t’ when offered that extra drink….don’t if you really don’t want to …. but if you do….bloody do it!
  • Right I’m jibbering rubs is hand want these tablets to send me into a deep sleep! Wish Me luck

Anyway, can’t see me writing again for a few days so wishing all my friends, family and general subscribes a 🎄VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS🎄

Holidays, Treatment plans and celebrations

I thought I’d make the most of my hospital day to update my blog.

It’s been a while since I wrote, and that’s been for good reasons – whilst we didn’t manage to get away for a nice hot relaxing holiday (too expensive at half term!), we did manage to get away for a week to Scotland. Sounds straightforward, but I did have to get agreement to put my treatment on hold for a week.

I have to say, that was the best thing ever. It sounds ridiculous, but whilst I knew that a lot of how I was feeling was due to the drugs, you do start to question whether a lot of it is an excuse….was I making it easy for myself to be grumpy by blaming the drugs? But it became clear on my week off, just how much it was the drugs impacting me. I was so much calmer, much less ‘tetchy’ and much more happy to let things lie. I felt good too. Not so tired and my taste came back.

It was absolutely lovely and we certainly made the most of it. We started off at a forest cabin in Strathyre…..walking, cycling, eating and drinking! A hot tub was a welcome chance to have quality chats with the kids and really get back to the basics. We even found time for a game of Monopoly and a bit of scrabble! We then went on to Edinburgh (with a small distillery detour for Nick!) where we traumatised Rebecca with the ‘Rocky Horror Show’ (bad parents – had forgotten how risque it was!), did the Camera Obscura, a tour under the City, and walked up Arthur’s Seat (well the footstool next to it 😉 ) By the end of it, when we left, I was definitely ready to come home for a rest. But it was a fabulous few days away that had been much needed for us all.

The other thing that we did while we were in Edinburgh was to go and visit the Myeloma UK offices and meet the teams! I’ve been fundraising for them for nearly 10 years now and never been up to see them so it was the perfect opportunity. I was going to go on my own, but then our son, Sam said he wanted to come too. So all four of us went along. It was great to see them and speak about all the work that they’re doing! What was really amazing though was that Sam was totally inspired by the visit and has decided to do his own fundraiser towards my #50KB450 – he’s now chosen to do his own #15B415 where he is doing 15 challenges to raise awareness and money for Myeloma UK. Within 24 hours he’d blown away his initial target, so he’s really happy already! If anyone can help him with any challenges, please do! Even if it’s just to help tweet about it that would be great! Feeling super proud of what he’s doing as he’s doing it with very limited input from me!

While we were at the offices, we were also able to talk about an award that I’d been nominated for….and for which, I’m excited to say, that I won as ‘Helpline Volunteer of the Year’ for my work with Myeloma UK. I didn’t go to the ceremony, partially because I am trying to limit how much I do with my tiredness, but also, if I’m honest, because I really didn’t expect that I had a chance of winning it! I was totally gobsmacked when they told me, but very proud! If you’re interested in knowing more, there’s a link here: https://www.myeloma.org.uk/news/helplines-partnership-award-success-for-myeloma-uk/

What was also great was that just before we went to Scotland, I had seen my consultant for my monthly catch up. My numbers are continuing to reduce….now 11.3 so a nice steady decrease. They’ll be looking for that to go down to as close to zero as we can do but it’s halved now and I reckon I’m around half way through the initial chemotherapy treatment. The other news my consultant gave me was about those timings. Apparently once I get to the end of January, I’ll come off the velcade and the dexamethasone part of the DVD. Since those are the drugs that I ‘think’ are giving me the worst side effects, I’m over the moon that there is an end in sight for those. I’ll keep going with the darathumamib infusions (once a month), but I’ll basically come off everything else.

This will give my body a chance to recover for a couple of months before, drum roll, I have my Stem Cell Transplant (No.2). I’m so relieved to have an idea of when this might happen now. I know things can still change but not knowing when it might happen was really frustrating me and my control freak tendancies. At least now I can plan how life might look for the next 6 months, even if I have to change it down the line. Strange really. Most people want to put off these things but I just want to get through the transplant with the hope that life WILL go back to normal in the months afterwards. I’m trying not to wish time away now – Nick is right that we should be enjoying and making the most of it – but I do want to get past the transplant as I know how awful that will be.

The Darzalex isn’t Working- Dom has a Broken Collar Bone

Hi gang-  it’s been pretty rough around here.  After 7 Darzalex infusions, they had to stop so that he could get radiation on his hip and both rib cages.

We LOVE his Radiology Oncologist, Dr. M.  This guy actually called Dom personally the other day and talked for about 15 minutes.  We’ve only had 2 other doctors do that.

The last time that we spoke to him, I said “Doc!  When he was diagnosed 10 years ago, it was a breeze.  Thalidomide, total body radiation and a stem cell transplant.  He was in complete remission for 8 years!”

Dr. M. said, “Dom-  you beat the odds, man.  You’re 10 years older.  The cancer and the treatment are kicking your ass.”

Sure enough.  Saturday morning he couldn’t lift his left arm.  Horrible pain.  He stayed in bed the entire weekend.  We called Dr. M on Monday.  He ordered a CT Scan for Tuesday.

He called Tuesday afternoon to say that the Darzalex wasn’t working and the cancer caused a BROKEN Collar Bone!

Dom was measured for radiation yesterday and had his first of 5 radiation treatments today.  He’ll finish up on Wed.

Then they have to figure out what to do for him.  He had originally told them “NO MORE CHEMO”.  Thus the Immunotherapy Darzalex.  We were SO hopeful.

I guess that they’ll try chemo again.  Dom doesn’t want to end up back in a wheelchair, as it is, he’s walking with 2 canes.

So, gang-  If you can find it in your heart, please say a prayer.

Back on the Rollercoaster

It has definitely been yet another rollercoaster over the past couple of months! After my last results showed an increase of 2, my February results were stable…..brilliant news of course, although I can’t really explain rationally why there was a small part of me was frustrated at the lack of pattern and the fact that my head seemed incapable of keeping up with the change of direction.

So I spent the next few weeks, trying to get my head around the fact that perhaps the rise of 2 was just a blip and that, yet again, I’d told too many close friends about it, when there was nothing wrong with me. Such an attention seeker. Such a fraud.

And then last month, my bloods came back having risen by 4. And I could tell from the tone of the email, that my consultant felt that this wasn’t good news…that and the fact he asked me to come back for bloods to check if it was an anomaly or whether we are dealing with a clear relapse. So yesterday I went back to have them redone and next Thursday, Nick and I will head back to find out more. That said, I can’t wait till then so have already asked to be told the results asap….and since 11am yesterday morning have therefore been watching my phone non-stop….argh!

I’m back to reading myeloma articles and starting to look into treatment options. There’s been some great news this week about a new drug being approved by NICE for first time relapse patients like me. So, I’m imagining that I’ll be deciding between that and going on the Myeloma XII trial …the first would be ongoing treatment, whilst the second would hopefully push me into remission again….who knows, maybe for another 8 years – but would make me severely ill for a while too.

I’m a bit all over the place if I’m honest. I just want to know if I’ve got to front into treatment and a new Stem Cell Transplant, or whether we can get on with things like normal. I can’t believe I’m back here. Back thinking about funeral songs, back thinking about what I can’t do if I’m back on treatment, back wondering about my ‘Bucket List’. It’s totally crap if I’m honest. I thought I’d got past all that negative thinking when I realised that I’d done so well with 8 years in remission. But now I’m back here, I realise it never fully goes away. The fears, the paranoia, the sadness.

Somehow I will get back to being my positive self. I think I need to get an element of control back to myself – that’s the worst bit about myeloma…you seem to lose all control. I don’t quite how I’ll do this….I’d like to get back into fundraising but I’m not sure how healthy I’ll be to do that, or exactly what I could do. If anyone reading this has any great ideas, I’d love to hear them. It really helps me take my mind off what is happening, but I need something that isn’t too stressful or too demanding if the chemo starts.

Time for an update

I thought I’d write a quick update for people on here as it’s been a busy couple of months since I explained about coming off maintenance therapy and I haven’t really had a chance to let people know anything. We’ve been busy renovating the downstairs living room and thankfully are only a couple of weeks off completion now!

So, my last medical update was about being taken off Revlimid (my maintenance therapy). I’ve been off it for 3 months now…the first results weren’t too bad and my figures only went up by 0.5. Last month though, they went up by 2 which is faster than I’ve had it change over the past 7 years. It means that next months figure will be really important in my consultant making the decision as to what happens next and whether I start on the Myeloma XII trial which I have been given information on.

It is a really strange one – to feel that they took me off a drug that was keeping my progress slow and steady, resulting in it speeding up and potentially me needing treatment even sooner! I don’t quite understand how that makes sense for anyone except the drug company who no longer have to fund my drugs (they payed for them whilst I was on the Myeloma XI trial). I am wondering about challenging the system and asking for them on ‘compassionate grounds’ which apparently you can do. I need to look into what that means and how I would go about it, but surely if you can prove that a drug keeps you in some form of remission, that is more cost effective for the NHS than paying for a Stem Cell Transplant for me?

So, unless I can arrange for that to happen, it looks like I may well be back on treatment by the summer which would suggest a transplant at Christmas – not really what I want at all but if by getting in there early it stops me from suffering any type of bone or kidney damage, then I’ll have to go with it. We’ve thought about it lots over Christmas, as you’d expect. I maintain the fact that I’m majorly lucky to have been in remission for so long, and to have avoided complications. But, I’m absolutely gutted that, from being a healthy 43 year old who plays netball, racquetball and runs my own business, I will have to give up the sport etc and make myself so ill that I can’t function for 4 – 12 months. What a choice to make. It sounds strange, but in some ways when people are ill or suffering symptoms, the decision to go into a chemo regime feels like it might be easier.

The kids do know a little of what is going on. We weren’t going to tell them much until we knew I needed treatment to start, but then Sam started asking very specific questions about my health. We’ve always promised to tell them the truth and so we had to tell him that I’d been taken off revlimid. Of course that led to questions about the ‘what next’ so they do now know what could be on the cards. I think perhaps that’s for the best anyway – it gives them time to get their heads round it and I’m sure they’ll need that just like we do. It also means that if they stumble across my blog, that they won’t read anything on here that comes as a shock to them.

In the meantime, we’re taking the time to regroup and work out how 2019 might look for us. We had hoped to go away somewhere, but I think now, we will look at camping and prioritising getting our bedroom turned into an ensuite to help with the treatment process. I’m so pleased we’ve nearly finished the renovation of the living area as that means we have somewhere to enjoy and to have as ‘our’ part of the house (the rest is very dated). On top of that, it’s time to get back into doing things as a family….the poor kids have been very neglected during this whole house business, so we’re looking forward to more dog walks in the Clent Hills, more board games and generally more time together.

Next update probably won’t be until after the next lot of bloods…..I’ll be counting the days 😦