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Kathy Pedersen

1959 / Class of 1998 / Type: IgG, Kappa light-chain / Mini-allo, remission / Last Update: 9/03

In October, 1998 I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. I was 39 yrs. old. Like most young patients, I was told I probably did not have Myeloma because I was too young. My disease was confirmed with a bone marrow biopsy and a 24 hr. urine collection. At diagnosis I had 16% plasma cells, with IgG Kappa and Kappa light chains, and was Durie-Salmon stage 2A. I also had a few small lesions. A month after diagnosis, I began VAD chemotherapy. I received 4 treatments with excellent tumor reduction. 3 mos. later I received a mini-bone-marrow transplant. two of my five siblings were perfect matches. My 32-year-old sister was chosen as my donor. I was hospitalized for 6 weeks. My family moved in to a house rented out by the hospital. They were with me 24/7. When I was doing well I was allowed to go to the house with them. My transplant was not easy. I feel like I experienced every complication possible. An E.Coli infection nearly took my life, but 2 years later I am not only alive but well!

I thought the day I was diagnosed was the last day of my life. I was wrong. Yes, many things have changed and I am no longer the same person. But I believe that what does not destroy me makes me stronger. I live one day at a time. I do not live for the future, I live for today. I have 2 teenagers who still need to. have me around and I thank God for blessing me with 2 years so far. I pray I will be around to see them grow to adulthood.

Unfortunately, I have chronic graft-versus-host disease. I have had it on and off since my transplant. It manifests itself in mouth lesions. We have tried zanapex, steroid injections into the sites and pain killers as well as high dose steroids. I am hopeful that soon it will burn itself out. There is so much more I could say but it is probably best to leave it at this. If anyone has any questions or would just like to correspond with me it would be my pleasure. I don not know anyone who has Myeloma or has had a transplant. I would especially like to talk with women near my age.

In closing I would like to encourage everyone reading this to fight the good fight, and keep the faith. 

September, 2003: It has now been 4-1/2 years since my transplant. I am still in remission. At my last Doctor's visit labs confirmed that my donor engraftment is 100%! What a blessing to hear those words! My doctor told me he actually believes I may have achieved a permanent remission. (I'm sure this is "off the record" since MM is still considered incurable)

My graft vs host disease finally burned itself off about 2 years ago. For the last year and a half I have worked full time. I realized a lifetime dream by taking a trip to Italy last spring with my daughter and her class mates. I was even able to keep up with high-schoolers for 10 days!

4-1/2 yrs later I am finally able to look into the future a bit. I actually think I may be around to see my kids marry, maybe even hold a grandchild. After all I've been through those thoughts bring such joy to my life.

I encourage all of you to keep fighting, Try to enjoy each day you are blessed with. God has been my source of strength. He wants to carry us all through these tough times. Reach out to Him and he will never fail you!

I'd love to correspond with anyone who would like to know more about my experience or just needs a little encouragement. If I can use this "challenge" to help someone else through a tough time I'd be thrilled!

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