Countdown to Chemo 5: Difficult month is over

The effects of chemo
April 2013: Experiencing chemo side effects

I’m happy that this difficult month is over. Since I found out that my cancer is back, I’ve been consumed with the thoughts about when the drugs necessary to keep me alive will once again become my reality. My memories are still fresh from my nine months of chemo in 2013. I can’t imagine a worse period in my life. And that’s why I’m petrified about having to do it all again, because I’m really not ready and the reality is I don’t know if I ever will be.

My chemo drugsMy 2013 cancer drugs

I remember when I found out in March that I’d been in complete remission, meaning no cancer was found in my blood stream, since Nov 2013, I was elated. I figured I had a 5 year window to focus on personal multiple myeloma projects such as Cancer Sabbatical that could inspire and educate others. Instead, my myeloma reappeared after only 8 months. Not what I expected at all.

This summer my laptop broke, so I’ve been without a computer since then. My cell phone is also broken, meaning that communication only occurs online when I can access a public computer. I’m realizing that I can’t get freaked out by things. Being stressed raises my cancer levels, which I don’t need. So I’m just going to stay calm and focus on making the best of my situation. Having a terminal disease makes every day a challenge especially during chemo, as I am my own caregiver. I need to focus on happiness.

I need to stay positive.

To recap: I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. It is incurable, but treatable. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient.

I also love photography and use it for personal health and healing. Without my laptop, I rarely am taking photos now. You can view my pictures on Pinterest.

Steveston - Canada GeeseSummer 2014: Canada Geese

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Countdown to chemo 5: Third significant cold this year

Loving AutumnAutumn 2012

Earlier, this month I learned that my cancer is back. I’m worried about my upcoming chemo treatment for a number of reasons, but in this post I’ll focus on my health. I’m going through my 3rd significant cold this year. Generally, I don’t get colds, so having three colds in the same year is troubling. My throat is pretty sore from coughing and my nose has been blown alot of times. I don’t have a fever so it isn’t an infection, but it is tough going right now. I feel like my health is going downhill paralleling the rise of my cancer levels. As multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood plasma (white blood cells that fight infection), it will compromise my immune system. I’m now really worried about getting a cold during chemo. I can’t afford warm clothing (scarf, toque) or medication right now, which I know is contributing to my being sick twice in the last 5 weeks. Maybe I can find a clothing charity in town.

The other concern is that I’m always cold. Inside, I like to keep my hood on when wearing my hoodie. In a perfect world, it would be 15C inside and 25C outside everyday. I’m assuming this is related to my multiple myeloma. I wish I could warm up my blood somehow. What I like to do through the day is drink lady grey tea, which I love. That does help keep me warm and happy. Although this photo is with tea bags I have been drinking loose leaf for about a year now.

Lady Grey TeaLady Grey Tea

To recap: I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. It is incurable, but treatable. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. It was a challenging year.

I also love photography and use it for personal health and healing. You can view my photos on Pinterest.

Springspotting at UBCSpringtime at UBC

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Countdown to chemo 5: Today I got my flu vaccine

Time for my flu vaccineGetting my flu vaccine!

Today I received my flu vaccine. I have a reduced immune system due to my multiple myeloma and anemia and an infection can have dire consequences. It was just a year ago I was on chemo and right now I’m counting down to chemo 5, which I expect next year.

These are the 3 flu viruses that my vaccine will protect me from:

  • A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus

My flu vaccine occurs annually (2013 blogpost) on the recommendation of my Hematologist. What is really helpful is that in British Columbia, anyone in a high risk group can get a free flu vaccine, such as:

  • Seniors 65 years and older
  • Children and adults with certain medical conditions, including:
  • Heart or lung disorders that require regular medical care, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cystic fibrosis
  • Kidney disease, chronic liver disease such as hepatitis, diabetes, cancer, anemia, or weakened immune system

The cost would have been $25 for me, which I could not afford. I’m happy that this task is over for another year. My arm is sore, but it is all good.

To recap: I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. It is incurable, but treatable. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. It was a challenging year.

I also love photography and use it for personal health and healing. You can view my photos on Pinterest.

Here is a photo from Coal Harbour in Vancouver.

Coal Harbour: Vancouver Harbour Water AirportFebruary 2014: Vancouver Harbour Water Airport

Staying positive!

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Living with multiple myeloma: My cancer is back

Waiting for chemo treatmentMay 2013: Waiting for chemo treatment

This week I had my Hematologist appointment and based on elevated levels of my Beta-2 microglobulin, my cancer is back. For most multiple myeloma patients, their myeloma protein resides in the gamma globulin, for me it is the Beta 2 globulin. My igG number is used to track my cancer levels, which will parallel my Beta 2 number. Right now, my igG level is 14.8, my Beta 2 level is 9.5. Therefore I was in complete remission (no myeloma visible in my blood stream) from November 2013 until July 2014.

I had a good discussion with my Hematologist. Basically if my igG levels spike or if I experience bone pain (a common symptom of multiple myeloma), then we will have to discuss chemo treatment options. Otherwise, we will watch my levels and hopefully they will only go up gradually. I will continue to have blood tests every five months and see my Hematologist every 3 months.

Serum Proteins (Electrophoresis & Immunoglobulins) (g/L)
Date Albumin Beta 2 Globulin Gamma Globulin igG igA igM
Reference Range 34.0-53.0 1.8 – 4.8 5.1 – 15.0 6.7 – 15.2 .70 – 4.00 .40 – 2.30
Oct 46.2 9.5 6.4 14.8 .39 .27
Sept 45.1 6.2 7.1 12.8 .36 .21
July 45.9 4.9 6.9 10.8 .34 .25
June 45.3 4.0 6.6 9.9 .33 .30
May 46.5 3.5 7.3 9.2 .33 .26
Apr 47.9 2.8 7.0 9.2 .28 .23
Mar 48.3 2.8 7.0 8.9 .31 .33
Feb 51.4 2.8 6.4 7.7 .24 .38
Jan 47.6 3.0 6.2 7.5 .17 .33
Nov 45.6 3.5 5.1 7.1 .14 .10

Test Comment: There is a monoclonal band in the beta 2 region. This band was previously identified as IgG lambda.

Hematology Profile
Date WBC Hemoglobin Platelet Count Neutrophils
Reference Range 4.0 – 11.0 135 – 170 150 – 400 2.0 – 8.0
Oct 4.1 139 305 2.1
Sept 3.7 135 241 1.8
July 2.9 133 247 1.4
June 3.4 135 265 1.8
May 3.2 138 294 1.5
Apr 2.3 137 243 0.9
Mar 2.0 135 211 0.8
Feb 2.0 132 208 0.9
Jan 1.9 124 217 0.7
Nov 2.2 118 220 1.1

I had a question about whether multiple myeloma was a chronic disease and about whether the spoonie theory applies. I was told that it is not, which makes sense to me. I don’t have a limited amount of energy each day and my disease is terminal.

I’m now in ‘preparing for chemo’ mode. With my last two chemo treatments, I had life altering events , so I may have serious side effects again and I need to be prepared (e.g. financially, physically, mentally, emotionally). During Revlimid, I had a ischemic stroke caused by TTP, a rare blood disorder and spent 12 days in hospital. In 2013, during Velade, my T7 vertebrae collapsed causing intense pain over four weeks.

I expect chemo in the next two years. It is important that I remain stress-free as possible in my life to help keep my levels from spiking.
I view my upcoming chemo as an opportunity to continue to share knowledge about multiple myeloma to others. Whenever my treatment happens, I will document it like in 2013 using photography and social media. I also hope to get going on Cancer Sabbatical, once I can get a laptop.

If anyone has any questions, just ask. Staying positive!

To recap: I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. It is incurable, but treatable. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. It was a challenging year.

I also love photography and use it for personal health and healing. You can view my photos on Pinterest.

Sunset in a UBC ForestSunset in a UBC forest

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Seeking cancer patients that are entrepreneurs: Do you know any?

Autumn is hereAutumn

I do feel I need some inspiration from fellow cancer patients. What I’m looking for is rather specific and may be difficult to find. However, I’m living with a cancer that is 1% of all cancer, long odds are a part of my life. I’m looking for cancer patients that are entrepreneurs that have created, launched, or built something post-diagnosis (e.g. started a movement, founded a startup, built an app, launched a project). Ideally I would love to find someone that has an incurable, terminal cancer and needs chemo treatment every 2-3 years. I want someone similar to me, so I can understand how they do it, to help inspire me with my entrepreneurial endeavors.

My everyday interests are multiple myeloma, emerging technology, photography, and healthcare as I continue to explore how I can share awareness about multiple myeloma with others. One way I hope to achieve that is through Cancer Sabbatical my personal project. The desire is that I will generate knowledge and creative ideas that can be put into designing a solution to a problem faced by multiple myeloma patients.

I am a multiple myeloma patient, Multiple myeloma is a a rare blood cancer. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. It was the most challenging year of my life.

I believe in me and I know I will accomplish my goals.

Taking a shortcut
Vancouver: Taking a shortcut

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