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Shelley - Get Busy Living

Posted on June 30 2014

Shelley - Get Busy Living
And So It Began, My Journey to the brink and back

I can’t believe it has been three years since my journey began. Three Years!! Can you believe it? Who would have thought that slipping down the stairs and injuring my back would end up being both a blessing and a curse? After a lower back (lumbar region) X-ray, and months of therapy the ache in my back still persisted. It was suggested that I have an X-ray of the middle of my back (Thoracic region). Ah Ha – there it was a compressed vertebra with a lesion on it. I was told that the lesion looked like a Hemangioma. What the heck is that? I can’t even spell it. Nothing to worry about they said it looks like one of those red moles everyone gets. You can have them anywhere on or on the inside of your body. The compressed Vertebra needed to be fixed, but I was told that they would just watch the lesion to see if it grew. Ok, if you know me at all, watching something and waiting would just about drive me crazy with worry, not gonna happen.
Surgery was scheduled to do a Kypho-Plasty. This procedure is used to puff up the Vertebra and inject a substance into the space that ends up drying like a cast to allow the vertebra be put back to its original state. I insisted that a biopsy be done of the lesion at the same time. I needed to know exactly what it was. Then the news came. I got a call and the message was, that the lesion was suspicious and that I had been referred to an Oncologist. Suspicious, what do you mean suspicious. I went from thinking, no big deal, to what the heck, please God, don’t tell me I have Cancer.
I sat in the Oncologist’s office, wishing I could be anywhere else. You have Multiple Myeloma, I was told. The good news is, that it was caught at a very early stage. To be diagnosed with only one lesion is unheard of. Good thing I insisted on having a biopsy, right!
Radiation began right away to get rid of the lesion on my vertebrae. It took about 8 rounds and the lesion was gone. I thought that was it, until three more lesions appeared on my upper spine behind my throat. More radiation, and this time my Oncologist added Chemo medication. This round of radiation was a lot harder. The radiation hits everything around the lesions. I ended up having all kinds of sores in my mouth, which was not fun. Oh, and did I mention that they made a mask that fit my face and they bolted me to the table for each round of radiation. Sounds fun right. Nope, not really. The good news is that all of the lesions are now gone. Now the doctor faced deciding how to put my cancer in remission before more lesions appear.

I was offered different options:
Option 1: I could have a bone marrow transplant at Stanford. The transplant would be autologous. This means that they would filter out blood from me, clean it and then transplant it back into my body. There is no way to clean out every Cancer Cell so this is not a cure, just a chance for remission. But first, I would have to have two rounds of Aggressive Chemo Therapy that would pretty much kill my immune system and me. It would cause sores in my mouth, hair loss, and no immunities. Then they would keep me at Stanford for 4 weeks for blood transfusions. Then I would have to come home to a sterile home, I would need to have all of my immunizations again. So far, I do not like option 1, AT ALL. Please tell me Option 2 is better.
Option 2: I would have injections of a new Chemo medicine in my abdomen twice a week for six months. Option 2 won.
I am currently in remission. Yippee!! I still have to take Chemo medication to stay in remission. I have my blood checked once a week to make sure my numbers are still within the healthy range. The only way for you to understand this is to tell you, that when it all started my cancer numbers were 400. They are now 13. If the numbers should rise again I would have to start the injections again. It is still possible that I would have to have a transplant, but I am holding out as that being the last option possible.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM MY EXPERIENCE - You know your body and how you are feeling. Don’t watch and wait to see if something grows. Have it checked out so you know what you are dealing with. Talk to someone who has been there. Me, for example. I am there for you.
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