I had problems with migraines for a while now. About 2 years ago things got worse and there was a clear pattern of migraines getting triggered by pain at the back of my neck. This got worse when I was under stress but was consistent for a while. Along with this was progressive fatigue that made daily tasks exhausting. Things came to a head one morning in December when I lifted her head off the pillow and felt something pop. I had severe neck pain after this. I had an XRay showing apparent whiplash and went for physical therapy. The therapist started some treatment though recognized that my complaint of numbness along my jaw did not fit with a neck spasm.
I had an MRI of my brain which was normal followed by an MRI of my neck which showed tumor replacing the C2 vertebra. This led to a flurry of scans and additional labs showing evidence of blood proteins associated with a cancer called multiple myeloma. Gideon and I were initially concerned that I would need surgery to stabilize my neck . In the course of the orthopedic evaluation I was referred to Dr Said Usmani. Typical treatment for this problem would be radiation however he was concerned about the location of the tumor in the neck and recommended chemotherapy to shrink the tumor quickly. My evaluation included a bone marrow biopsy which demonstrated evidence of multiple myeloma which is a cancer of a particular immune cell called a plasma cell.
Because of this result the plan changed and I went through 16 treatments with chemotherapy and steroids. This is a challenging kind of cancer and the current treatment standard is to use chemotherapy to remove the cancer and then get treatment to stimulate stem cell growth. My stem cells were collected June 4th. On June 18th I will be admitted to the Bone Marrow Transplant unit in Charlotte to get high dose chemotherapy followed by an infusion of my own stem cells to regrow my immune system from (hopefully) cancer free stem cells. This process takes 14-19 days we are told and I will be in the hospital until there is evidence that I have enough of an immune system to protect me outside of the hospital. Gideon and I are grateful to all the friends and family who have been participating in this journey with us. We are using Caring Bridge as a way to keep people updated and a place for people to check in. Gideon and I both have access to the site. We will provide updates sporadically. We welcome your positive thoughts, jokes, movie and video recommendations.