James Clem James Anthony Clem

First post: Jul 18, 2019 Latest post: Aug 25, 2020
In early February of 2019, I went to see my primary care physician about back pain, and general fatigue I have been feeling for the last three or four months.  During testing, as well appointments with a nephrologist and urologist, a protein called M Protein was found in my urine.  This was a clue that led my urologist to send me to Dr. Mark Womack at Tennessee Oncology for additional testing.  Shortly after this my back pain suddenly became far worse, prompting Dr. Womack to order further tests, including x-rays and a ct of my back.  This revealed a crushed vertebra that I can't remember injuring.  This injury prompted further testing and on February 28 I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma by Dr. Womack.  

Since the I have struggled with the back pain caused by the cancer, resulting in four hospital admissions covering most of the month of March.  The pain, and the cancer that caused it have been treated with radiation, drugs and chemotherapy, my greatest hope for remission is a transplant of stem cells from my own bone marrow.  At the beginning of July, 2019 I began the process of blood tests, x-rays, ct's and other exams needed to get ready for this transplant.  Now as of July 15, we are back in Nashville to start the process of gathering stem cells for a transplant.  This is being done by placing a special IV line called a Central Venous Catheter (CVC) in my subclavian vein, then giving me injections of Granix, which causes my bone marrow to produce extra stem cells.  After this has been done for 4 to 5 days, my blood will be drawn from the CVC and the stem cells filtered out.  These will be treated, frozen and stored for later use.  

Once the stem cells have been collected we will go back home for five days, then return for a massive chemo treatment, followed by the transplant of the stored stem cells. Then I will spend several days in the transplant unit and nearly thirty days staying somewhere nearby, within 30 minutes of the hospital.  I will be visiting the clinic every day for blood tests and blood transfusions when they are necessary.  I am already in a partial remission, and this transplant should push the disease into a full and deeper remission that hopefully will last up to 20 years.  There isn't a cure for this cancer, but the transplant and further maintenance doses of chemotherapy could give me another two decades of useful life and time with my family and friends.