I have met so many incredible people since my multiple myeloma diagnosis.
The common bond we share makes small talk unnecessary. And it instantly breaks-down the superficial walls that we all use when we deal with others.
Add-in a few other commonalities, and PRESTO! Friends for life!
I have never met Ed Wolfman. He lives in California and I live in Florida. But multiple myeloma brought us together. I can’t even remember how we first met online. He must have emailed me about a post I wrote. Or maybe I commented on his patient blog.
I do know that we both attended the University of Wisconsin. And like me, he is a big Badger sports fan.
Ed is a few years older than I am, but we were both in our early 50′s when we learned the hard way about multiple myeloma. And we both chose to wait to transplant until after our first relapse.
Hopefully we will meet someday. At a UW football game perhaps?
In the meantime, Ed has kindly agreed to share the details of his myeloma story with us now:
My Transplant Chronicle
Part 1: Diagnosis
Life was good. I was a happy, healthy 53 year old guy with a wife and two children. I was well established in my job. I traveled and kept active playing golf, tennis and biking. But in the spring of 2006, I developed a moderate pain in my ribs. I assumed it to be related to golf…it felt like a muscle pull. I recall in weekend in Palm Springs where I had a golf vacation with a close friend and my son. We played a round on Friday and by Friday night, the pain was substantial. Plus, it radiated to my back.
I called a local masseuse and explained the situation to her over the phone. She wisely told me that she did not want to address it and encouraged me to have it evaluated when I got home (I owe her a debt of gratitude. Not sure every masseuse would have given up the payday). I backed off on my activities and it took about a month for the pain to go away. Then one day, my brawny 14 year old son gave me a bear hug and I felt the rib give way again. However, the pain subsided in another month.
I was feeling fine when I went off to Vancouver Island to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. One afternoon, I treated myself to a massage. During the massage, I felt a “snap” and remarked to the masseuse that I thought he had broken one of my ribs. He told me that he thought it was just the sound of my spine adjusting. Happens all the time. Nothing to worry about. But the pain got worse and I finally took my problem to an orthopedist.
The orthopedist took x-rays and I could tell from him face that something wasn’t right. He told me that “there could be some pathology” and insisted I go to the local hospital an MRI.
I did so and was told by the examining doctor that I should see an oncologist ASAP. That afternoon, Dr. Chan gave me the news….My x-ray showed multiple lesions on bones throughout my body. A normal x-ray would reveal white bones….My bones were translucent. The conclusion: I was diagnosed as having multiple myeloma, an incurable bone marrow cancer. Treatable, but incurable.
I was told at the time that most individuals survive 3-5 years from diagnosis. My wife was there at the doctor’s office with me. My son was home and my daughter was at a boarding school in Arizona. I dreaded sharing the news with them. In honesty, I sugarcoated it somewhat, telling them about the disease but leaving out the piece about the prognosis.
My son handled the news stoically. My daughter was predictably more dramatic in her response but she got her equilibrium back relatively quickly. My next step….go to war against this nasty disease.
Next: Transplant or not?
Few things in life are as difficult as hearing “You have cancer.” Incurable or not, it is never easy.
I want to thank Ed for taking the time to re-visit how he felt that fateful day. I will run Part Two of his story tomorrow.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat