The story so far…
It’s now been nearly since six months since one of my vertebrae collapsed and the subsequent diagnosis of Myeloma as the cause of my weakened bone structure. The initial surgery to reconstruct the L5 vertebra was successful, although there is also a wedge fracture of T11 vertebra that continues to give me some discomfort.
Since the end of March I have been undergoing treatment for the Myeloma. I enrolled on the Myeloma XI clinical trial programme, although my allocated pathway through the trial was, in fact, the current ‘standard’ treatment. This starts with an ‘induction phase’ of chemotherapy with three primary drugs: Cyclophosphamide, Thalidomide and Dexamethasone (CTD) as tablets that can be taken at home. I have not had any particularly severe side effects, apart from a blood clot forming in my left leg at the beginning of May.
I have now started on my 8th three-week cycle of CTD. This is my final cycle, ending on 8th September as my numbers have now reached the level where I can progress to the next stage in my treatment…
The next stage in my treatment gets a bit more intensive. This is the stem cell treatment. After a series of tests to check that I am fit for it, the stem cell harvesting process will be initiated on September 22nd at Bradford Royal Infirmary. Additional high dose chemotherapy (Cyclosphosphamide) stimulates extra production of stem cells in the bone marrow and a series of injections over 10 days (mostly done at home) encourages these stem cells to enter the blood stream. On 1st October I go into St. James hospital in Leeds where the stem cells are harvested from my blood stream by connecting me up to something like a dialysis machine. Blood is taken out of one arm, into a special machine that extracts the stem cells and then the rest of the blood is put back in the other arm.
Once the harvesting is successfully completed, then I get referred to the next stage, which is more high dose chemotherapy (Melphalan) followed by transplant back of my stem cells. Probably sometime in November. This high dose chemotherapy will destroy my immune system and so this involves a lengthy stay in St. James hospital (3-4 weeks), until my re-transplanted stem cells develop into healthy bone marrow producing healthy blood cells. Well that’s the theory! I’ll then need a couple of month’s recuperation at home and there’s lots of side effects to contend with.
And to give me a bit more encouragement through this more difficult phase I’d really like to help Myeloma UK with my fundraising campaign at www.JustGiving.com/Richard-Ednay