Salvadore Andre and Hollie at a Mustasche Party at Colie's house.

Andre J Novak Andre Novak

First post: Jul 25, 2012 Latest post: May 30, 2020
Welcome to Andre's Caring Bridge site. We made the site so you could keep up with his treatment and leave words of hope and encouragement  to keep us all cheered up.

Andre has been experiencing back pain since late October, 2011 so he has been in the care of various docs and PTs at UNC for Osteoporosis. With Andre's insistence his doctors dug further to find the reason for spinal stress fractures. He wound up with Dr. Peter Voorhees whose specialty is Multiple Myeloma. As some of you know this disease claimed the life of Dorothy Finch Taylor, Hollie's mother, back in 1990. We have discovered a lot of progress has been made in the last decade on treatment of MM and thus we have real hope for remission.

The back story to Andre's treatment in the spring of 2016 is that his Multiple Myeloma went out of remission and he was called on March 3 with this news. Dr. Voorhees said his next step was to get treated with chemo and then move toward a bone marrow transplant in the following months. Andre had gone through the process of collecting his stem cells in 2012, and banked them at UNC for future use. Now is the time to get the stem cell transplant which is scheduled for May 16 at this point. See the journal entries to keep up with the most current information. Thank you for your care and concern for Andre as he goes through this process.

See below for the beginning of the story when Andre learned about the diagnosis and treatment of his disease in 2011 and 2012.

This is how Andre's story began. Late October of 2011, about the time Hollie was having her breast cancer operation, Andre started feeling pain in his lower back. He had an MRI, saw back specialists, got a PT and was told he had a spinal compression fracture. He eventually got the diagnosis of Osteoporosis. His Dad had Osteoporosis later in life but we were curious why Andre had symptoms at the age of 61. 

Over several months he went to Physical Therapy and was given pain medication and exercises to strengthen his back support. At some point along the way another stress fracture happened. Eventually he was referred to a different set of doctors and they did more tests to find the cause for the Osteoporosis. It was at this time, in late June, that his blood was found to contain proteins. And this and other tests led to a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma.

I just re-read an email Dre sent out from about that time and I'll quote it here...

"1. From 1st visit with oncologist it is looking more and more like multiple myeloma.  Tests done Friday show myeloma antibodies and I’m anemic. But even if it is he says it is very treatable; guys my age often die with it not of it.  No cure yet.
2. Dr. Voorhees, my oncologist, says the spinal compression fractures I have are most likely due to the myeloma.
3. I’m eligible to join a French-Anglo research study on myeloma which will help cover some chemo drug costs. The study will determine whether I get stem cell transplant therapy either early or later in the treatment course. This is in addition to the chemotherapy which will likely begin soon.  He tells me that I won’t have side effects like Hollie experienced; it is a three-drug chemo done in 3 week cycles.  One is an infusion, two are just a pill to take; there will be 3 –4 cycles."

We have both met Dr. Voorhees and feel comfortable with him. The study that Andre referred to above has 300 MM patients in the United States spread among some 20 prestigious institutions like Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard, etc. There will be 700 from France. As an interesting note to add there will be only 12 participants in the study at UNC.

We have heard Andre's chemo will start next week. We are still awaiting the definitive diagnosis of staging from the bone marrow biopsy he had last Thursday.

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