velcade - cycle one

Yesterday I received the fourth of four weekly injections of velcade - the chemotherapy treatment that I have recently begun. I also took a fourth weekly dose of the steroid dexamethasone. So far I have not had any noticeable side effects as a result of this treatment (other than the marks left on my belly at the injection sites - the redness turns to a blotch that remains as a souvenir - a map of where I have received chemotherapy). That's good news! This marks the end of my treatment during the first thirty-five day cycle on velcade and dexamethasone. I get a "week off" now (not required to receive any treatment next week) and return to the Medical Short Stay Unit at St. Paul's Hospital to begin the second thirty-five day cycle in two weeks. We will see the first test results that show what effect the velcade is having in slowing down the rate of multiple myeloma and amyloidosis in three weeks. That is when the next free light chain readings will be reported to me and my medical team. If the treatment is proving effective I will remain on it until it is no longer working (and not causing serious side effects). Eventually we will move on to another treatment, playing a cat and mouse game with the myeloma and amyloidosis for as long as possible.

I recently learned that there are approximately seven thousand Canadians currently living with multiple myeloma. Given that Canada's population is nearing thirty-five million this means that those of us with multiple myeloma make up .02% of the population. Myeloma's relative rarity is the reason that the "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society" is not named the "Leukemia, Lymphoma & Multiple Myeloma Society" even though Multiple Myeloma is the third main blood cancer. Leukemia and lymphoma are much more common than myeloma. This means not many people - including me until this past year - are very familiar with this disease. I am grateful for the information and support that is available through Myeloma Canada and am looking forward to attending a free information evening that Myeloma Canada is sponsoring in Vancouver later this month. A myeloma specialist from Harvard University will be speaking on the latest news in the field of myeloma research and care (the event is open to anyone interested in learning more) There is information about the gathering at Vancouver Info Session.

My friend and colleague Janice Love will be participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer (from Vancouver to Seattle) in two weeks. She has almost reached her goal of raising $3,200 for blood cancer research with her current total of donations at $2,990 or 93% of the target. I expect and hope that the final $210 will be attainable in these final fourteen days before her ride on June 16 and 17. You can donate to encourage Janice and to support blood cancer research by going to Janice's donation page. Many thanks to all who have supported and encouraged Janice and me in this way!

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