multiple myeloma Is a rare type of blood cancer Which affects less than 1% of Americans. This can have a serious impact on your life. But better treatment and greater awareness of the disease bring strength and hope. And a diagnosis does not mean that you have to stop your life.
Here are some other things you may not know about multiple myeloma.
It is not bone cancer, but can cause bone problems.
Multiple myeloma affects plasma cells, infection-fighting white blood cells, which are an important part of your body’s defenses, or Immune system. Cancer Starts in your bone marrow, where soft, spongy tissue inside the bones Blood cells Are making This can cause problems such as back and bone pain, fatigue, and frequent or prolonged infections.
Weak bones are also common in people with multiple myeloma, so they need to be more vigilant in their everyday lives. Samantha Hines of DeCala, GA found out that she had the disease in 2018 Chiropractor Caused 18 Breach In his ribs. “When he was breaking my back, it broke my rib cage,” says Hines, a 55-year-old security professional with the IRS.
It doesn’t just happen in old people
Most people with this type of cancer learn when they turn 65 or older.
Hines was in his early 50s. And Jamaica Barrett was only 26.
“It struck me at the time most of my peers were building their careers,” says Barrett, now 44 years old and living in Fairburn, GA. “They were at the tail of the building where they were going to be, and I had seized this opportunity in my life.”
Barrett feels that his young age prevents him from being diagnosed early. She got very sick twice – with once Kidney Failure, a complication of multiple myeloma – before she was injured in the emergency room where an imaging test saw the cancer. “When he scanned, even on the notes, it said, ‘Well, we see many myeloma, but her age argues against the fact that she has it,” she says.
Her doctors were surprised for one reason: less than 35% of people have less than 1% of cases.
Is a racial gap
Multiple myeloma is the most common type of blood cancer in African Americans, which is twice as likely as white people. About 20% of people who have the disease are Black. One estimate predicts that by 2034 about a quarter of new diagnoses will occur in African Americans.
Experts are not sure of the exact cause. But Barrett sees barriers within the African American community that prevent more people from being diagnosed and treated.
“The other thing is just a lack of knowledge,” she says. “It’s getting better now, but for so many years, the patient didn’t know enough to know what multiple myeloma is.”
A third barrier for some people in the black community, she says, is a reluctance to get an A. second opinion When your doctor tells you that you are healthy but you are worried that you are not.
“I think we hunt very often, if you trust a provider and their word is the law,” says Barrett. “Sometimes, I think our community either doesn’t understand the value of each other’s opinion or they don’t realize they don’t have the option to say, ‘You know, let me double check. Because I Still feel that there is something wrong with me, and you are telling me that I am fine. ”
When you get a blood test, she says, ask your doctor about the number and medical conditions in the results. If you see a certain number moving up or down over time, mention it and tell them more about it.
Multiple myeloma can take a toll on mental health
Barrett helps lead several Atlanta-area myeloma support groups, of which Hines is also a member. She knows many people with the disease who have the disease depression And anxiety, Especially those who have lost their independence or had treatment that did not work.
The disease can affect your identity and abilities, Barrett says, because you may not be able to do everything you used to do or may need to rely more on other people for help. So it’s important to get mental health Take care if you think you are struggling.
She says it is also important to reflect something if you arrive Pardon. When your symptoms have gone and tests cannot find signs of cancer in your plasma cells, however there is no cure for the disease.
Barrett says that after at least a year’s remission, some people benefit from mentally building “a newly defined self, with a zest for what you have become and what you will achieve next”.
You don’t hold your dreams
After Chemotherapy, a Stem cell transplant, And follow-up care, Barrett has been in remission for 15 years. She says, “I have been very happy ever since I have been out of treatment for myeloma for a few years”.
Hines, who is undergoing treatment with his third chemotherapy drug, says the most common misconception about multiple myeloma is that it is a death sentence.
When she was diagnosed with Stage III disease in 2018, an internet search told her that her life expectancy was 2 years. “And I just burst into tears,” she says. “I’m like, ‘I’m young, my son’s in college, I’ve got a bucket list. It’s not enough time! I have Live. ”
So she does. An avid, he sold his motorcycle because of the risk of his bones. Now, she drives a more stable three-wheeler for fun. “I refused to grow grass under my feet. I still rode with the wind on my face. “
She also gave her shoes a makeover, writing a message on their soles. “All my shoes, below them, say ‘F Multiple Myeloma,'”. “So when I am walking, I go around myeloma all day long. Even under my bedroom slippers … so when I hit the floor every day, I’m taking it out of my life. I do not put it at the forefront. I have cancer – I don’t have it.