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Team Larry Sok
8/27/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting. #teamLarrySok In March of this year, dad's primary care physician (Dr. Judy Lewis) told him some pretty shocking news - that she believed he has multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system. Dad was showing unusually high counts of protein in his urine and Dr. Lewis was on it and sent dad immediately to an oncologist. Dad was asymptomatic and really only had a few of the factors they look for in myeloma, but Dr. Lewis was pretty confident he had it and since she sees him regularly, we immediately made an appointment to see local oncologist Dr. Bhandari. In our first meeting with Dr. Bhandari he told us that looking at dad's lab results he would normally guess that dad did not have cancer, but that Dr. Lewis was generally correct when she suspected cancer so he ordered a bone marrow biopsy. The results confirmed that dad has multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma causes tumors to grow on the bones and usually it is caught when the patient starts experiencing pain. Ironically during all of this Tom Brokaw went public that he had been suffering from multiple myeloma and when they discovered it, he already had tumors on his spine. We are so grateful to Dr. Lewis for being such a diligent doctor and catching dad's cancer so early. His scan revealed only a single tumor on his hip.
Dad's biggest concern on hearing the news was our planned family trip to Chicago in June. Although Kevin and I kept telling him that wasn't important, he insisted the chemo treatments be scheduled around our trip. During dad's entire treatment, he went to work, attended grandchildren events and even made it to Chicago with all of us. This was despite terrible neoropathy and nerve issues that made standing and walking sometimes excruciating for him.
The chemo treatment worked and dad's counts are great but unfortunately, multiple myeloma is not curable. After careful research and discussion it was determined that dad's best course of treatment was a stem cell transplant, a grueling procedure that will hopefully put him in remission for a long period of time. His alternative was a lifetime of cancer treatment and considering the side effects he has been suffereing, we all decided that wasn't the best route for him. We selected the transplant program at Emory Winship Cancer Center for several reasons but mainly, because of the number of successful transplants they perform annually (almost 300 last year), because they have a staff of multiple myeloma experts and because mom and dad have such a great support network in Atlanta. This is the first step in a long journey. He has already donated stem cells (6.1 million of them!) and will now go into the hospital for strong chemotherapy that will kill all the stems cells he has and then he will receive a stem cell transplant. He will be in the hospital at least 2 weeks and will have to stay in Atlanta another 3 weeks after that for follow up treatment and observation. Please keep my parents and family in your thoughts and prayers. Dad has been so touched and surprised by the outpouring of love and support for him.