Multiple myeloma is signified by a burgundy ribbon, like breast cancer is signified by a pink ribbon.
A firefighter fights for his life. And wins This short video (1:04 mins) is Kevin Hunt’s courageous story, a successful fight back from Multiple Myeloma — Source: Indiana University Health
Multiple myeloma is a cancer in which plasma cells form tumors in the bone because the cells grow too quickly. While the body attempts to fight the tumors, it’s difficult for the bone marrow to create healthy platelets and blood cells. This cancer also causes anemia, which can in turn cause abnormal bleeding. Multiple myeloma also makes it easier for a person to develop infections.
Symptoms of multiple myeloma
When a person suffers from multiple myeloma, they may experience bone pain which usually centers in the ribs or back. If the spinal bones are affected, the tumors could put pressure on the nerves, which is not only painful but may cause weakness or complete numbness in the legs and arms.
The person may also feel extremely tired because of the anaemia, experience fevers or suffer from unexplained broken bones.
A person could seem to be in excellent shape and still have multiple myeloma because often, there are no early symptoms. Fire fighter Kevin Hunt was healthy and active before his diagnosis, and went through treatment for multiple myeloma. In the short video (1:04 mins) above, Hunt credited his recovery to the specialists who treated him at IU Health. With regular check-ups and tests, multiple myeloma can be caught and treated, and patients can return to their regular lives.
Testing for the disease
Because it’s difficult to find multiple myeloma in its early stages, a person should have regular tests to try to catch the disease early. If a person’s family has a history of cancer, particularly multiple myeloma, he should ask a doctor for specific tests to try to catch the disease as early as possible.
Blood tests can tell a doctor if a patient might be suffering from multiple myeloma. Abnormal calcium levels, total protein levels and kidney function are all signs of multiple myeloma. Urine tests to identify antibodies and proteins also help a doctor determine whether a patient is suffering from multiple myeloma.
If a doctor suspects that a patient may have the disease, he or she may order additional bone x-rays or a bone marrow biopsy. The x-rays could show fractures and hollowed out areas of bone, which are signs of multiple myeloma. Bone loss may also point to the illness.
Your doctor may recommend one or more treatments for this cancer, depending which stage cancer you have. Treatments include chemotherapy, bisphosphonates, radiation therapy, surgery, biologic therapy, stem cell transplant, plasmapheresis and clinical trials.
If a person has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, he or she should ask the doctor several questions, including which stage it is and what each stage means. A person should also discuss treatment choices, including the side effects and aggressiveness of the treatments. Other discussions should include survival rate, treatment recovery time, recurrence rates, and when a person can return to work or other normal activities.
According to the American Cancer Society multiple myeloma may go away after a first round of treatment, but there’s a high chance of recurrence. This mean it’s important that a person keeps all follow-up appointments and continues to get tested during and after treatment. Tests during treatment shows the cancer team whether they are getting all of the cancer, and if the treatment recommended is actually working. Tests after treatment will tell doctors if the disease came back.
Multiple myeloma is a dangerous disease, but patients armed with research and a good medical team can go through treatment and have their lives back again.