1942 / Class of 2001 / Chemo, reducing activity; SnareCoil BMB / Last update:
I was diagnosed in September 2001. I had fallen on my right shoulder,
suspecting a strain or sprain. After 2 months of putting up with the pain, I
made an appointment with my physician. He ordered x-rays and we waited. He
suspected Multiple Myeloma. Not good news. I was referred to an expert
oncologist at the Cancer and Blood Institute in Rancho Mirage. Stage III, very
serious. 75%+ Myeloma cancer cells. Many bone lesions.
I just attained age 60 last fall and retired as a fire chief after 33 years
of fire service in 1995. I was exposed in thousands and thousands of fires, to
smoke, soot, toxic chemicals and gases produced by the fires, of all types. As a
young firefighter, I was involved for several years in truck trail and fuel
break maintenance using defoliants, 24d and 245t(Agent Orange). We also burned
the brush and other vegetation during the winter to keep the fuel breaks
manageable. An example is the international fuel break from San Ysidro to Camp
along the Mexico-California border(50+ miles). I was also exposed to diesel
fumes, used solvents to clean the engine compartment and undercarriage of fire
engines. I did work as a mechanic in the fire agency shop over the winter months
when fire season was closed. I did build up a hyper-sensitivity to any kind of
hydrocarbon compounds and developed rashes that kept getting worse.
In the mid to late 70's, I read an article about Viet Nam and their defoliant
program with herbicides. It was the exact same chemicals we used, a known
carcinogen. Suffice to say, I would not use the herbicides any further. Maybe
the damage to us was already done.
I know that the toxins and poisons are stored in the body's fat cells, some
never dissipating. After I retired in December 1995, I needed to lose about 30
lbs and improve endurance and strength. I started a walking/jogging and exercise
program with a careful watch on my diet. I lost the 30 lbs. in 3-4 months and
drastically improved my physical fitness. I could jog over 4 miles, half up
hill, and ride a bike for hours.
What happened to the toxins in my shrinking fat cells? I believe they became
more potent and released into my system. When I was diagnosed by an oncologist,
he felt the cancer started to manifest over 5 years before 9/2001. Coincidence?
I don't think so. There is a high correlation of herbicides, pesticides and
insecticides with Multiple Myeloma. I now know there is a way to de-tox the body
of these chemicals before losing weight. Other firefighters have had serious
neurological systems problems by losing weight before de-tox.
I was started on VAD in early Sept. 2001 and couldn't tolerate it and the
side effects. 4 rounds of pneumonia in 4 months. In Feb. 2002 to Sept. 2002, I
was on a Brostallicin research study chemotherapy. I wasn't getting worse, but
not much better. On Sept. 2, 2002, my oncologist started Arsenic Trioxide,
Dexamethasone and Ascorbic Acid chemotherapy through a research study. The first
week was hard and the cold-turkey stopping of Dexamethasone affected me very
seriously, needing hospitalization. Released in 3 days.
I just finished the second series of this chemotherapy. I have tolerated the
treatment very well since the first week. At the end of the first round of this
treatment on Dec. 2, 2002, I had a bone marrow biopsy. My oncologist reviewed
the Goldenberg SnareCoil bone marrow biopsy procedure, after I brought the
information to his attention. After 5 of the most excruciatingly painful BMB, I
was ready to try new procedures and tools.
Unbelievably, the SnareCoil procedure was painless. Didn't feel it inserted,
through the hip bone nor the snaring of the specimens(2). I also didn't have
several days of pain in my hip as before. No pain after the procedure, either!
My cancer cells had reduced from 70+% to 40%.
Good news: I finished a second 12 week of the Arsenic Trioxide in February
2003. I had completed 5 weeks of a third round of the same chemotherapy by April
2003. My oncologist recommended I stop the chemotherapy and take a break. In
May, I had another SnareCoil bone marrow biopsy and visited Scripps-Green
Hospital in La Jolla, CA. After extensive testing, the cancer count was down to
20%. Great news!
I am starting one or two rounds of Velcade chemotherapy to reduce the count %
some more, prior to a stem-cell transplant.
8/03 update: The Velcade treatments were amazing. My Myeloma % dropped
to 5% or less in 2 months. My 8th BMB 2 weeks ago was another Snare Coil. No
pain again! This means that the stem cell transplant is a go starting 8/12/03. I
have learned extensive information from other MM survivors at www.acor.org
Listserv. This is a great source to see what others are experiencing, what
treatments they are currently taking and an outstanding support network. It will
be a ride, I know, but I am very much looking forward to it. I will have a
wonderful team of professionals taking care of me. My wife of about 40 years is
always beside me and my rock.