For a long time I've been meaning to start a blog as a way for family and friends to follow my progress during this challenging time in my life. I know that many of you are hesitant to call (although I do appreciate the phone calls) so hopefully you will find this helpful. Please don't hesitate to post your own comments as I would love to hear from you as well.
For those of you who might not know the whole story, this has been a rather eventful year for my family and me. I was struggling with lower back pain last spring and was getting muscle manipulations throughout the summer for relief. However, in late August, the back pain came back more severely than before so I arranged with my doctor to get an MRI. It showed a mass compressing my spinal cord so I was hospitalized and had emergency surgery to remove a tumor. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma cells that affects the bones. The good news is that it was caught very early--I am a a low stage 1--and the prognosis for people with multiple myeloma is very good. I should be able to lead a "long and productive life," as one doctor said, once the initial treatments are complete. If you are interested in learning more about multiple myeloma, I have attached a link to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation on my blog.
One of the symptoms of multiple myeloma is that it weakens the bones causing lesions and small compression fractures in the spine that produce back pain. That has been my biggest challenge during this time. Since the initial surgery, I had one more hospitalization in early October for a procedure to relieve the pain but find that the back pain still comes and goes with no rhyme or reason. Just when I think I have it licked, it comes back! This is one of those weeks. Pain medications, however, can do marvelous things so I am able to control the pain with them.
I have also begun chemotherapy treatments at Northwestern Hospital one day a week and those are going well. I have had very few, if any, side effects, and actually feel quite good on the day after the treatment. Those will continue for about another 6-10 weeks. At that point I will prepare for a stem cell transplant of my own stem cells which will require a hospital stay of 2-3 weeks. After that, the cancer should be in remission and I should be able to get back to a more normal life.
This has been an eventful year for Terri and me in another much happier way. Our first grandchild, Anna Evelyn Douglass, was born to Andrew and Katie in the Twin Cities on June 16. She is a beautiful little girl whom we just treasure. The picture above was taken at her christening--just 3 weeks after my initial diagnosis and surgery. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when the doctor said I could make the trip.
We skype with Andrew and Katie often so we have been able to see little Anna grow. Andrew and Katie are also good about sending us pictures so we can keep our grandparents' brag book up to date. Terri is Grandmor (a variation of the Swedish) and I am Grandpa Bob. We are thrilled that they will be down for Thanksgiving and can hardly wait. We will have much to be thankful for on that day.