Tara Roberts

Anyone who knows Tara loves Tara!  She is such a great friend who always jumps in to help friends whenever she can.  So many people; friends, co-workers, family, church family, are concerned about her and wanting  updates, so with her permission, we are starting this site to keep everyone updated on her journey with Multiple Myeloma.  

She initially went to the doctor toward the end of the year (2020) with complaints of pain/soreness in her upper arm that started as intermittent soreness, and over a few months, had progressed to more persistent moderate discomfort.  After several x-rays and tests, she was surprised to learn that what she thought was maybe a strained muscle or torn rotator cuff, ended up being multiple myeloma.  

Multiple Myeloma is a type of cancer of the plasma cells in the blood. One of the things it can do is make the bones weak and subject to breaking. Tara's x-rays showed bone loss in two major areas - the bone in her left upper arm, and her left thigh. The doctor immediately issued her a sling, and instructed that she was not to use that arm for ANYTHING for fear of it completely breaking, and effective immediately, she was to not return to work.  Her thigh was fairly unstable also. Her doctors were all AMAZED that she wasn't in terrible pain. She had been going to the gym and exercising regularly with discomfort only controlled by Tylenol!

So, the first order of business was to have both of those sites surgically stabilized by an orthopedic oncologist at KU Med.  After allowing this surgery to heal, Tara was able to start treatment for the myeloma. She did 4 rounds - 2 weeks each of of a drug (proteasome inhibitor) by injection that block certain proteins which help to slow the growth and spread of cancer, and a pill that is an immunomodulatory drug that boosts the immune system while fighting cancer. After this, her numbers were amazingly almost back down to normal. YAY!!

The next phase is more difficult, a stem cell transplant.  The University of Kansas Cancer Center has an outpatient clinic in Westwood, KS (Shawnee Mission) for this. They are using her own stem cells, so she doesn't have to be matched with a donor,  and risk the chance of rejection. This phase of treatment is a long haul. Up to 30 days in KC in a hotel with daily clinic visits and then another 1-2 months with restrictions back home, but essentially in isolation because her immune system will be wiped out and started over.  She will even need to get her childhood immunizations all over again! But meanwhile, she won't be able to be exposed to ANY potential germs.  Even watering her plants at home is on the list of activities to avoid because of the potential fungus it may stir up in the soil!  She has a strict protocol to follow for all the DO's and DON'Ts.

The stem cell transplant process is amazingly simple. It includes 1-30 minute infusion of chemo the first day, and the 2nd day is a 20 minute infusion of her own previously collected stem cells. Then daily clinic visits for several weeks to check her blood work to see how her immune system is doing. Tara started the transplant process this past week, Tuesday,  June 15th.  I understand the transplant went off as planned and the side effects have been a little rough, but she's taking it a day at a time and powering through it.  

She prepared well for this and just has the BEST attitude about it.  She is taking it all one day at a time and is doing exactly what she needs to do, following doctors orders.  Her sister-in-law, Mary Lyn, is staying with her in KC during the stem cell transplant, and when she comes back to Manhattan, her daughter, Tessa, will move in with her to help her out.  Doctors have said the earliest she might be able to return to work is next January because of risk of being exposed to infection. Luckily, so far, she has been able to Zoom in with some of her kids at school for their physical therapy sessions and she was still able to do paperwork from home and attend meetings, virtually, etc.  

The doctors are very optimistic with the current technology in treating this type of cancer and suggested that it's not uncommon for people to live 10-20 years after diagnosis and treatment. There are so many of us pulling for her to get through with this! We love you Tara! 

I know several have asked how they can help.  I'm not sure how to answer this right now except that she would appreciate your positive vibes and/or prayers, and maybe a short note of encouragement here on this page.  Tara requests no "meal trains" because all of her food will need to be cooked fresh on site (at home when she gets there).  Restaurant food won't even be allowed because of possible contaminants. And no visits for awhile. Cards, and prayers are welcome! 


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