Chapter Three – Diagnosis M

I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens. – Woody Allen

10 January 2007 was the day that changed the course of my life. I am sharing the exact posts from my diary from later that night after the life-changing events of the day.

I had been moved to a private room so I was alone with my thoughts and wide-awake from early morning, waiting…..

diary image

Wednesday 10 January 2007

I was edgy all morning. I was on the phone to Bryan and he was calling me every so often. We were waiting and expecting results. Bryan was at work as we were trying to keep things as normal as possible for everyone in the family.

My phone was buzzing all morning with texts as people knew I was due results. No pressure!

Dr Wall (renal consultant) came in to see me just before lunch and I knew she had the results.

She delivered the results.

I have myeloma, a CANCER in the blood. It has affected the bone marrow and kidneys.

It is serious, not curable, but treatable! WHAT THE F*&*!

DEVASTATED.

I rang Bryan and asked him to come to the hospital. I told him I had cancer. That was a phone call I never want to have to make again. I couldn’t quite get the words out and I kept saying I’ll be OK. I phoned my Mum next and ……….. [there is a break in the writing in the diary here]

There is a huge amount of information coming at me. I will be in and out of hospital all year – indefinitely really. What about the kids and Bryan? I will have to put work on hold for a few months.

I only got upset at the very end of the conversation with Dr Wall.

Bryan arrived. I asked him not to be too nice to me…… but he was anyway and I cried.

Bryan asked the doctors what would happen if I went home and did not have any treatment and they basically said I will succumb to the disease. Bryan got quite cross and said what does that mean in English please? They said that I will die without treatment.

Again, what the F*&*!

Within a few minutes of being diagnosed I had a bone marrow biopsy done by the haematology registrar, as I lay in the bed. This was to see where things were in terms of the staging of the disease and how advanced it was.

[Another break in the writing here……]

[This piece is timed late in the evening of 10 January 2007]

I am here now in a private room on my own and I am still in shock over the news. I felt very sorry for Bryan having to take that diagnosis home with him – to leave and be alone on that journey home to Newbridge. At least my Mam is there at home for him.His own mum phoned him too.

We haven’t told the kids – a 2yr old is not going to understand anyway but Emma will be a different story. I am unsure about what to do. I will talk to the social worker in here and see what she suggests.

Emma and Cathal Tobin
Emma (9) and Cathal (2)

I have started my drug treatment already. I have had some injections into my stomach to encourage red cell production.

I started some tablets to stop me getting fungal infections as my immune system is compromised and another tablet to protect my stomach lining.

I will be starting steroid treatment tomorrow – 20 a day for 4 days I think. I hate steroids so I am not looking forward to those.

I asked about getting home and they said it should not be a problem. Wait and see I guess.

I have to have a bone scan tomorrow which is a full body X-ray I think.

Had heart echo yesterday and all is fine.

Fr Paul D came to visit as did Rachel and Conor D.  I had loads and loads of calls and texts.

BAD DAY

ACCEPT IT

TALK ABOUT IT

BE POSITIVE

How will I manage to sleep? Bryan told me to get a sleeping tablet. I didn’t. I don’t want to start relying on even more tablets. Closing off now. Numb with shock.

End of diary entry

Here’s another science bit for those who want to read on and find out more about Multiple Myeloma:

Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft spongy material found in large bones. It makes three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Plasma cells, which are a kind of white blood cell, are also found in bone marrow. Normally, plasma cells make proteins called antibodies (immunoglobulins) to fight infection and help build up immunity to disease.

With myeloma the plasma cells are abnormal and are called myeloma cells. These myeloma cells usually make a large amount of one type of abnormal antibody. This is known as a paraprotein and can be found in blood and urine.

The paraprotein cannot fight infection properly and can reduce the amount of normal antibodies being made. In the bone marrow the myeloma cells can also leave less room for normal plasma cells to develop.

Multiple myeloma: Myeloma cells can spread from the bone marrow into the harder part of bone and cause damage to bone tissue. The marrow of more than one bone can be affected, sometimes several bones. For this reason, myeloma is often called multiple myeloma.

In Ireland about 222 people are diagnosed each year with myeloma.

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2 thoughts on “Chapter Three – Diagnosis M

  1. Started reading your book, your diagnosis brought back memories of when I was diagnosed with MM. I started to tear up. I remember being alone when I was told, and had no idea that was what was wrong with me. I started cleaning and thinking why me? I called my wife, and couldn’t talk I choked up. The best thing about it is I value my time more. What was really odd is that one of my best friends had this rare form of cancer and that I would come down with it. He has since past after 7 yrs with it. I’m in a support group of Multiple Myeloma patients which he introduced me to. I plan to return to your book. Thanks for putting it out there. Mark

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    1. Hi Mark

      Thanks for your comments. I so agree with you about valuing time now.

      I can’t quite believe that two best friends were diagnosed with the exact same rate cancer – makes you wonder doesn’t it?

      The support group is a great idea

      Stay well.

      Brenda

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