Before I get started, a quick thought: Without thinking about it, I have ended my last four blog entries with statements like “Until tomorrow” or “Tomorrow I will…” It isn’t always easy, but I am proud of the fact I post on this and my other blog, www.HelpWithCancer.Org each and every day. My choice to do this is intentional. I want myeloma and other cancer patients, their friends and families, to have a fresh, up to date independent patient driven resource they can count on. My entries may get a bit quirky or personal or, some would say, too technical from time to time. That’s OK. What is important is that my lovely, three time cancer survivor wife, Pattie, and I are here for you, 24/7. You can e-mail us, call us, write us. If we don’t have direct experience with, or have the answer for your questions, we will do everything in our power to draw on our growing (and this is the important part) and independent network of physicians, nurses, researchers and patients to help us find someone to help.
Why does it matter if there is a strong genetic or family component in multiple myeloma? After all, it isn’t like breast cancer, where a woman might consider having her breasts removed after learning she is genetically in a high risk group. In this case, what is a person to do? Have their bone marrow removed to prevent the myeloma? That wouldn’t work, even if it was possible. And since early detection of multiple myeloma does not effect a person’s life expectancy in the same way as many other cancers, why bother knowing? Two important reasons. First, it might help someone like me who suffered a great deal of bone damage prior to my diagnosis. Had my doctors known to look for myeloma as a possible cause sooner, maybe I would still be 5’8″ tall today, instead of 5’6″ and shrinking, as my vertebral compression fractures continue to get worse! Second, I have found over the years that cancer patients, almost universally, want to know “why?” Why do I have cancer? Is it something I did? Is it because of where I lived, or worked, or raised my family? Could it have been prevented? Looking closely at the genetic component of our disorder might help some patients, and their families, find some peace. What are the draw-backs of knowing? Like with other cancers, it’s the often unnecessary worry caused by knowing the odds. Either way, I feel it is in the Patients best interest – no, it is the patients right – to know the truth! Don’t you agree? Feel good and keep smiling! Pat