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Marvin Mason

Hemet, California; masonfam1@msn.com

1938 / Class of 2002 / Type: IgA Kappa Light Chain / Last Update: 11/03

(The story is submitted by his wife and caregiver... Theresa Mason.)

Marvin grew up in Pomona, California and was exposed to heavy smudging from the citrus groves. At 19, he worked as a State Forest Fighter and again had exposure to smoke and soot. In his mid-20's he worked at a solvent plant and was exposed to all kinds of carcinogenic chemicals (benzene, etc.) with little to no safety gear. Although he changed careers and retired from police work, he has continued through his life to enjoy woodworking. He exposed himself to strippers, wood dust and other chemicals with no safety masks or gloves. (The old "it's never going to happen to me" syndrome). His dad did die of Hodgkins Disease at age 51.

In May of 2001, Marvin was lifting our 18 foot canoe and wrenched his back. He said he felt something like a "shock" go through his lower spine but then it felt better and he went on about his work. In September we went on a month long camping trip to Yellowstone National Park and although he had some lower back aches he pretty much operated normally. When we returned home, his back was really starting to bother him so he went to the family doctor at Kaiser and returned home with pain meds and muscle relaxers. The following month, he returned to the doctor as the back was getting worse and not better! Again, more pain meds and muscle relaxers with the addition of exercises for his back and instructions to attend a class for sufferers of back pain.

Marvin returned home from this class with a list of exercises to do. He is the type of person to follow doctor's orders and tried to do the exercises. The pain was so excruciating that he could barely get off the floor after doing the prescribed exercises. Back to the doctor in December and I insisted that they finally do an X-ray. They did...along with blood tests. By this time, my husband's pain was so excruciating that I was dosing him with Vicodin, Ibuprofen, and muscle relaxers every 4 hours. He was wearing a stretch type back brace and just getting out of bed was a major effort.

Finally, we received a call from the doctor who told us that there was an old stable compression fracture and that he was slightly anemic with a 12.9 HGB. She also told us that his proteins were elevated. She was referring us to a Hematologist!

This scared the wits out of me as I knew this was not a good omen...I went on the internet and a search resulted in Multiple Myeloma. By the time we had our appointment with the Hematology/Oncology department I pretty much knew what Marvin's diagnosis would be. On January 8, 2002 we received the final diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, IGA Kappa Light Chain. His BMB showed 80% myeloma cells and IGA was 1950. Marvin has always been such a healthy and strong person, it didn't seem possible.

Kaiser has been fantastic! I really was surprised as we were told that Marvin would be referred to City of Hope for a PBSCT and would start treatment immediately with 4 rounds of VAD. We both were very happy as a PBSCT was what we wanted. Marvin completed his 4 rounds of VAD with only one hitch...a bout with a bronchial respiratory infection.

Our Kaiser BMT doctor is great, he had previously been on staff at City of Hope and led us through the procedures. After the 4th round of VAD, Marvin's BMB showed a 10-13% level...quite a reduction from the original 80%. Marvin was entered into a clinical trial where he was to receive 2 PBSCTs. His stem cell retrieval went well and we were able to stay in the City of Hope Village for the first transplant with high dose Melphalan. I was his caretaker and quasi nurse for 12 days. He suffered the usual problems...no appetite, some mouth sores. He was off the IV on the third day after transplant and we went home on the 12th day.

As the second transplant was to get underway...the rug was pulled out from under us! The trial had been put on hold as they had what they considered to be a higher than expected % of people experiencing liver problems after the second transplant. They were going to use Cytoxan and Busulfin on the second transplant. After a BMB showed that Marvin was at about 5%...blood and urine all normal with no evidence of myeloma, it was decided to forego the 2nd transplant at this time and go on maintenance Thalidomide.

October 2003

Marvin has now been on Thalidomide for one year and is doing great. His maintenance dose has leveled out at 200mg per day. He has experienced the common side effects of Thal... constipation, sleepiness, and a small amount of neuropathy. Tips of fingers, toes and lips are somewhat numb but really not anything that affects him too much. His last BMB was in July of 2003 and had reduced further to 3%. His IgA was at 190 which is the lowest it has been and his HGB is hanging around 14.3 to 14.7. Last winter he did suffer from quite a few colds, some going into bronchitis, but not too bad considering. He feels good and walks on the treadmill about 5 days a week for 1/2 to 1 hour. Also, swam during the summer. He also has been receiving Aredia once a month since diagnosis. His back is stiff and he is very careful about what he does so as not to injure it. He has lost 3 1/2" in height. His original CT and MRI scans showed only the one compression fracture but there was some pretty extensive osteoporosis. We have taken two cruises this year and are trying hard to enjoy life everyday not knowing what tomorrow might bring.

We try hard to remain positive and wish the best for all! I will try to keep the updates coming!

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