Dave VanWassenhove

First post: Sep 11, 2012 Latest post: Oct 24, 2017
Thank you for visiting our CaringBridge site. Today is September 9, 2012 and this is the start of my whirlwind story.

I have been diagnosed with plasmacytoma myeloma, bone marrow cancer, which represents one percent of all cancers.  I will have more tests before we know the prognosis, but I am positive and grateful.

Four weeks ago I had a moderate pain in my upper right back and right chest, and then about two weeks later my right elbow began hurting, then soon my toes and soles of my feet felt numb. The numbness quickly started throwing off my gait when I walked.  I looked drunk when I got out of my car for a donor visit!  Luckily our internal med doc saw me two days later on 8/23. An exam and two hour appointment that included an ekg and chest xray led to the doc as confused as us, but referring us to a physiatrist (i know, we never heard of this either) who would evaluate my muscles and nerves. We honestly thought it was MS or, god forbid, ALS.

A week later, on 8/31, her exam revealed some muscular and a lesser degree of nerve dysfunction and she said since it was a long weekend, she wanted a spinal MRI either yet that evening or Saturday. So the next day we were at Grant MRI. We were sent immediately to Riverside ER.  By Saturday night we found out there was/is a massive cancerous tumor wrapped around the T1 vertebrae of my spine that had to be removed as quickly as possible or I  would be paralyzed. Monday morning (Labor Day) the posterior portion of the tumor was removed from my spinal cord so I will not be paralyzed. That's the great news.

In the course of additional tests last Sunday, a mass was detected in my colon and was believed to be the primary cancer.  After the surgery on Monday, a colonoscopy showed no cancer in my colon, thankfully.  What we have learned this week is that the T1 vertebrae has been completely consumed by the cancer. There is a rod and four screws where that vertebrae used to be, and the remaining cancerous tumor on the anterior portion of my spine will be treated with radiation.

I have been diagnosed with plasmacytoma myeloma, bone marrow cancer, which represents one percent of all cancers.  I will have many more tests before we know the prognosis and subsequent treatments, but I and my family are positive and grateful.

Honest to God, I have never had a single symptom of any of this. I am grateful to Dr. Kevin Anderson for his quick response to such vague symptoms and to Dr. MaryAnn Everhard-McDonald for sending me to get an MRI immediately.  My family and I are taking everything one day at a time as I recuperate from the spinal surgery.  It’s slow and painful.  We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support and will use this site to keep you updated.  Your encouraging words are appreciated by us all.

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