Revised March 29, 2016
My Dad, Raymond Sizemore, passed away at age 71 on Monday, March 21, 2016 after a valiant 14 year battle with Multiple Myeloma, recent diagnoses of treatment-related Myelodysplatic Syndrome and Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and other treatment-related issues. Learning about Dad's medical condition, as it evolved, was helpful to my family in coping with Dad's illness and his passing, and I hope others also find this information helpful.
In 2002 at age 58, Dad was diagnosed with the highest stage of Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. His warning signs were slight anemia for a few years, detected through routine physicals, and bone pain. Thankfully, his primary care doctor (Dr. Korgan in Claremore) recognized those warning signs and sent Dad to an oncologist (Dr. Lynch in Tulsa) for testing. Soon after the diagnosis, Dr. Lynch recommended an aggressive treatment plan that included high-dose chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant. The treatment, at St. Francis Hospital, was a several-month process. Dad did great, the treatment was as smooth as possible, and the Multiple Myeloma went into remission.
Dad returned to the oncologist periodically after the stem cell transplant, to test for the Multiple Myeloma markers. Year after year, the markers remained low - meaning the Multiple Myeloma was in remission. During that time, Dad continued to work, travel, enjoy time with family, play with Buster (his all-time favorite dog) and basically enjoy his life. He gained a son-in-law and a grandson, and then he retired during the remission years. He and Mom enjoyed traveling whenever and wherever, after they retired.
In early 2014, the Multiple Myeloma markers were elevated. Dr. Lynch recommended doing a repeat of the 2002 treatment plan: high-dose chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant. The high-dose chemotherapy did its job of knocking out the Multiple Myeloma. Unfortunately, it also knocked out his blood "numbers," including his white cell count. Because of his weakened immune system, Dad stayed in an isolated area of St. Francis for 70 days, until his white count rose to an acceptable level. During that lengthy hospital stay, Dad felt fine but was too vulnerable to infection to be able to safely leave. Dr. Lynch then decided that Dad's body couldn't handle another stem cell transplant and instead treated Dad with maintenance medications to keep the Multiple Myeloma in remission.
Dad's "new normal" beginning in 2014 was going to St. Francis as an outpatient, periodically, for blood tests and transfusions as needed. The Multiple Myeloma remained in remission. He and Mom continued to travel and enjoy their lives.
In mid-2015, Dad started developing shortness of breath, which was a new thing for him. He also developed high ferritin (iron) levels in his blood, caused by transfusions.
In late 2015, Dad was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a bone marrow disorder where juvenile blood cells don't mature. Treatment for MDS was more blood transfusions. MDS sometimes progresses into Acute Myeloid Leukemia, so Dr. Lynch was watching for that.
On February 1, 2016, Dad was admitted to St. Francis because of a large lump on his leg that had suddenly appeared. He still had shortness of breath and needed supplemental oxygen.
In mid-February, after a lot of testing and while still in the hospital, he was diagnosed with treatment-related Acute Myeloid Leukemia.(AML). Dr. Lynch explained that the AML, and the prior diagnosis of MDS, were likely caused by the maintenance medications given to Dad in 2014. He was also diagnosed with a fungal infection, MRSA, pneumonia-like fluid buildup in his lungs, and excess fluid in his body. In addition, the Multiple Myeloma markers were a little elevated. Dad's medical team eventually included an infectious disease specialist, pulmonologist, and a cardiologist, in addition to Dr. Lynch (oncologist).
Dr. Lynch planned to treat the AML and Multiple Myeloma with chemo and would look for a transplant center that could perform a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor, if Dad was strong enough for it. Dad was an only child so there would be no perfect match. Andrea and I would be tested for a potential match, but there was likely a better match amongst the donor database (www.bethematch.org (http://www.bethematch.org
)). Before chemo could start, however, the infections had to be controlled and Dad's breathing had to get better. In addition, the medical team kept checking Dad's kidneys and heart for potential damage caused by the high ferritin levels from transfusions.
Dad stayed in the hospital and continued to get transfusions along with antibiotics, anti-fungal, and anti-viral medications. Weeks went by and there was eventually improvement in the fungal infection and pneumonia-like fluid buildup. But it was a rollercoaster - better for a while then a setback. In early March, Dad experienced congestive heart failure, and then on his last day his kidneys failed. Ultimately, after 50 days in the hospital, he passed away.
We are blessed that Dad had many years of remission and good health after the Multiple Myeloma diagnosis in 2002. He beat the odds by far and was a proud attendee of the annual survivor picnics hosted by Dr. Lynch.
We are beyond blessed to have experienced the caring and support from so many wonderful people during Dad's hospital stay and after his passing. Thank you!!!