Galen's cancer journey started on December 14, 2018, the day before Daiton's graduation from ISU. But it actually started in March 2018. We just didn't know it then. During a scan to diagnose a kidney stone, several masses were found in his abdomen. April 2018 was spent testing, biopsying, and meeting with oncology. To our relief, everything turned out to be benign, fluid filled cysts. No further testing or treatment needed.
Over the summer of 2018, Galen had a routine check up with his Dr. And he suggested getting a follow up CT scan in a year just to make sure everything was the same. Galen knew we had maxed out our health insurance deductible for 2018 and talked the Dr into ordering the CT scan in December...always the frugal farmer!
He went for the scan on December 7th. We got a call that day that there were no issues with the cysts, but they did find 2 lytic lesions on his spine that were not there in April. They said the lesions can be caused by several things, but the one they were concerned about was Multiple Myeloma. This is a blood cancer, specifically of the bone marrow. It causes these lesions that eventually leads to deterioration of the bones, fractures, and organ damage. Galen had no symptoms. He felt fine so this was a shocking call.
The next step was to get a biopsy of the lesion and confirm the diagnosis. The biopsy was done in LaCrosse on December 12th. The next day we left for Ames to move Daiton out of her apartment and attend her graduation. On Friday, December 14th the Dr called and confirmed that Galen had Multiple Myeloma. Another shocking call. We processed this information while sitting in a hotel lobby. Not the best of circumstances.
On December 26th we met with the Hematology Oncology Dr at Gundersen in LaCrosse. We learned all about MM and the course of treatment. We also found out Galen has Stage 1, which is why he doesn't have any symptoms. MM is usually not diagnosed until Stage 3 when there are symptoms. Galen was most worried about our annual trip to Arizona in January 2019 and didn't want to give that up. The Dr agreed to allowing us to go on the trip and begin treatment when we returned in February.
MM is not curable, but it is very treatable. There have been vast advances in drugs and treatment in the last 10 years. The most standard protocol is 4-8 months of chemo, followed by an autologus bone marrow transplant. The autologus means using your own stem cells instead of a donor. It is a 4-6 week process. Gundersen does not do this and we were referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
We had our first Mayo appointment in May. The Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) is a major undertaking. Under normal circumstances, Galen would be ready to undergo BMT sometime this summer. However, Galen wants to be around to do the harvest. The Dr believes it is reasonable to postpone the BMT until early November. So until then, he will continue with the chemo protocol.