Myeloma: striking close to home


Away from Tech today. I’m sure some of you, your family or friends have been touched by the devastating effects of cancer. If not, you probably will be at some point in your life. Cancer struck very close to me recently and took my brother at the age of 52. He had been diagnosed with myeloma (cancer of blood plasma cells) a little over a year ago. It’s been quite a blow to my elderly parents, both in their mid-80s as they struggle to come to terms with the fact that their son has been taken before them – upsetting for any parent. We’ll all miss him.

My brother led a pretty healthy lifestyle. He wasn’t overweight, he exercised well, ate a reasonably healthy diet, and lived in a stress-free rural area. He was pretty much the last person I would have expected to be diagnosed with cancer, but that’s not the way it works I’m afraid. The causes of myeloma are pretty much unknown at present. Initial signs of the disease were easily misinterpreted: tiredness which he had put down to aging, and a very sore lower back, initially thought to be a prolapsed disk but later diagnosed as fracturing due to weakening by the myeloma cells. Renal failure followed.

He responded to chemotherapy initially but never sufficiently to undergo stem cell treatment. His kidneys started functioning again, but after a few months, his body rejected the first chemotherapy regime and later a second regime. He had an aggressive form of the disease.  The hospital staff were magnificent throughout and he had wonderful support through his final days. He never complained and bore the illness with great courage.

I’m not really sure what the message is here, other than don’t take life too much for granted – you just never know if or when a terminal condition will strike. Don’t put off doing the things that are important to you or that you’ve been meaning to do. And if you are 50 or over, and are experiencing tiredness and increasing lower back pains, see your GP, and insist on blood tests just in case.

2 Responses

  1. Andy Says:

    My condolences to your family and best wishes for the future. This is the not-so-fun part of life.

  2. techandlife Says:

    Thanks Andy

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