Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tale Of The Tape

In the early Spring of 2008 my mom was being treated by an orthopedic doctor for what we believed to be a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder. After weeks of no improvement, an MRI was ordered and our lives changed. The MRI revealed a tumor.

A biopsy confirmed that the tumor was a plasmacytoma.

Plasmacytoma is a form of cancer that begins in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. In this type of cancer, the abnormal plasma cells collect in one location and form a single tumor, called a plasmacytoma. Plasmacytoma of the bone often becomes Multiple Myeloma (and it did in my mom's case), meaning that it affects more than one bone.

At this point my mom became a patient at the Cancer Center of the Carolinas in Greenville.

Radiation therapy for the plasmacytoma began immediately and ended mid summer of 2008. For several months we were in sort of a holding pattern -- which we didn't mind at all!! Mom's oncologist felt like her lab work results (I'll attempt to explain the different lab work markers for MM in a later post) didn't present a need to proceed with further treatment at the time.

In December of 2008 she started experiencing hip pain -- we hoped it was just arthritis and not another plasmacytoma. A full body bone scan confirmed the presence of another tumor -- not in her hip but in her left shoulder. This news resulted in a second bone marrow biopsy (first one was done around the time of diagnosis). However, her oncologist still saw no need to proceed with more evasive treatment.

In March of 2009 a 50th birthday visit to the oncologist ended with news that it was time begin an even bigger battle against multiple myeloma. The protocol was to begin with induction chemo to prepare for a stem cell transplant. She started with oral chemo -- a combination of dexamethasone and revlimid. By June we realized this course of treatment wasn't doing the trick (lab work results and constant allergic reactions). Her treatment plan was changed to 4 cycles of IV Chemo -- a cocktail of Velcade, Dex, and Doxil which lasted throughout the months of June, July, and August. In late August we returned to the oncologist to review her most recent lab results hoping the induction chemo was a success and we'd be able to move on to the stem cell transplant.

Here's a snapshot of the results:
Protein Spike: Not Observed -- GREAT NEWS!
Free Light Chains: 1700 (Before Induction Therapy) 112 (After) -- GREAT NEWS!

So now it's time to move forward with the stem cell transplant. I will assume the roll of "caregiver" during this process. My dad will take over when he's able to be away from work. My sister (a junior in college) will assist when she can as well. My mom and I will temporarily relocate to Greenville for the 11 week process.

I decided to start this blog to chronicle our journey and to keep our friends and family informed as we go through the stem cell transplant. I ask that anyone who reads this to do the following: Pray for my mom, pray for the doctors and nurses who care for her, pray for our family, and pray that I'll be able to be the rock that she needs right now.

Fighting Like A Girl


  1. I'm praying for y'all.

    Let me know if y'all need anything while y'all are in Greenville. We are from the area.

  2. Thinking and praying for you and your family.
    - Kate (and Scott) Sinclair