My story begins in 2007 with a simple blood test - my company was having a health check for people over the age of forty. I went along as I was always like to know how healthy I am and the results were good, but my blood pressure was high and I was advised to see my doctor to have it re-checked.
When I went back I realised my mistake, but the nurse said she would take my blood anyway as it had been arranged and it would do no harm. I received a letter about two weeks later asking me to see my doctor to discuss the results. Before I had made the appointment, I received a phone call from the doctor asking me to see him as soon as possible.
The following week I went in to see him and he talked about my red and white cells and my immune system being affected. This meant very little to me at the time, because cancer was not spoken about, but he did say how sorry he was. He said I would need to go to the local hospital and speak to a consultant. This happened and again my blood counts were discussed and paraprotein levels were brought into the discussion. These would be checked every three months, but no medication was required.
Each month my paraprotein levels began to increase. My health was about the same, but I began to notice back pain. I had x-rays from head to toe and pain relief. When my paraprotein levels went up to around 36, things seemed to change. A nurse sat in on a meeting with my consultant and chemo treatment was now discussed. I was told that the myeloma needed to be reduced and I was stunned. I asked the nurse – ‘do I have cancer?’ We know the answer and I know some people will say that I surely must have known, but we are all only human. Sometimes we avoid the question for fear of the answer.
My health changed and I felt tired. As I was working, my hours had to change. The myeloma had become active in my back and I had bad back pain. Night times were very bad and in the end I had to go back and see my consultant. He put me on a higher dose of painkiller but this did not help. The pain increased and my ex-wife was kind enough take me to A&E. Fear set in as I was transferred to another hospital.
Treatment was arranged to repair my back as the discs had collapsed - this was done and the pain was better. The next stage was to change my chemo, as the one I was on was not affecting my levels. It was also arranged for me to have a stem cell transplant. The change in chemo did help and my stem cell transplant went ahead in 2010. Now in 2013 I have been treatment-free for three years. My paraprotein levels are at 11 and I am working. I have a pamidronate infusion once a month for my bones and see my consultant every three months.
I joined a myeloma group which does help sometimes, when you see people in a similar situation to yourself. I try to involve myself with these cancer groups as I believe their support helps not just me, but others.