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An old friend revisits early myeloma years

Home/Inspirational/An old friend revisits early myeloma years

An old friend revisits early myeloma years

Canadian George Harrower has contributed several articles to our site in the past.  The first helped us understand how myeloma treatment is financed in Canada, the next a great reminder about how dangerous pneumonia can be for us this time of year.  Here are links back to those features:

An In-Depth Look At Financing Multiple Myeloma Treatment In Canada


Pneumonia is very dangerous for those of us with multiple myeloma


Well George is at it again.  I wanted to share his blast from the past; recollections what it was like–and how he felt–back when he was first diagnosed:

As well as the Christmas cards which showed up in the mail in December, I George Harrowerreceived a postcard which notified me that it was time to renew my driver’s licence. For most people this is no big deal, just the annoyance of standing in line at the licensing office to get a picture taken. For me, that is 5 years that have passed since I posed for what I thought might be my last licence photo. 

The last time I renewed my licence, I was recovering from my auto stem cell transplant, which was followed by 3 weeks in isolation with C. Difficile, which was followed by shingles. I wasn’t driving at the time because I was too weak and wasn’t confident of my ability.  My wife drove me to the licensing office where we found a long line waiting.  I was ready to leave and come back another time, as I didn’t have the energy to stand in line. Also, I didn’t want to be exposed to so many people because my immunities were still so low.  My dear wife wasn’t as easily deterred, so she spoke to the person directing customers to the appropriate line, explained my situation, and I was walked to the front of the line and was out in 10 minutes. This was just one of many considerate acts I would experience over the course of my recovery. 

Thinking back to that time, I didn’t really know much about multiple myeloma. I had concentrated on managing my side effects and recovery, first from spinal surgery to repair a shattered vertebra, through radiation, chemo, and SCT. I had avoided searching the Internet for information as I didn’t want to be distracted from the course I was on.  Not that there were as many sources of information back then.  The two blogs I now follow closely were not the abundant sources of information they are now. Pat Killingsworth’s MultipleMyelomaBlog wouldn’t start for another year, and Nick van Dyk was still evaluating treatment options before choosing UAMS. 

I didn’t want to read any negative news that might shake my confidence.  I had achieved a complete response after my SCT and was concentrating on physical recovery and getting back to normal.  Still, I couldn’t help wondering whether this driver’s licence would be my last. Five years seemed like a long time.  The photo on my licence is like a ghost staring out at me.  I had no colour in my face, and most of my hair was gone.

For this year’s picture, my hair has grown back (sort of), and I am still 6 foot 2, so the rods holding my spine together are doing their job..  My latest visit to the myeloma clinic shows stable disease, adequate blood levels, and no kidney problems.  Better than all that, by the end of January I will become a grandfather.  Life is good.

Life is good, George!  Amazing what we can live with and still enjoy sticking around!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat