Monday, May 10, 2010

Myeloma Mondays #15: Kirk from Russells Point, OH

This Myeloma journey is brought to you by Tiffany, Kirk's wife. I have had the good fortune of following along with them in their journey since diagnosis and I must say they are a very strong couple was are battling this disease at a very young age with a very young child at home.

Where were you born and raised?

  • Kirk was born in Columbus, Ohio, but has lived most of his life in Russells Point, Ohio (Indian Lake, Ohio).
Where do you currently live?

  • Russells Point, Ohio
When were you diagnosed and how old were you?

  • Kirk was diagnosed with MM on December 1, 2009. He was 42 years old. He is type IGA Kappa.

Did you know what MM was prior to diagnosis?

  • Fortunately, no.

Is there anyone else your in family with MM?

  • Kirk’s family has dealt with cancer, but not MM.
What led to your diagnosis? (example: broken vertebra)

  • During the summer of 2009, Kirk was experiencing terrible lower back pain and spasms that would leave him bed ridden for days. Then his ribs began to feel as though they were popping in and out, his mouth was covered in canker sores, and he lost approx 30 pounds.
How many times were you referred before actually being diagnosed?

  • We had one visit with a family physician who advised us to see a chiropractor. After three months of adjustments and extreme pain, our chiropractor recommended a bone scan that led to an MRI that led to basic x rays. Because of Kirk’s age, a medical professional did not recognize the symptoms of MM. Finally, Kirk became very lethargic and dehydrated. I rushed him to an emergency room, and a simple blood test revealed a calcium level of 14. Testing and eight days spent in the hospital confirmed the MM.
Where have you received treatment?

  • The James Cancer Hospital (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio
Explain your treatment history:

  • 12/2009: Started Velcade/Dex/Revlimid
  • 3/2010: Completed 5 cycles of Velcade/Dex/Revlimid
  • 4/2010: Autologous Transplant #1

Why did you or your doctor choose a specific treatment?

  • Based on Kirk’s age and health, our doctor decided an autologous transplant would be the best means for long term survival. It has not been decided yet, but we are hoping our doctor will agree on tandem transplants. Our goal is not for the five or even ten year remission – we need Kirk around for the next thirty plus years!
What has been the side effects of the different treatments?

  • Extreme fatigue and slight neuropathy in the hands and feet. We feel pretty blessed by the lack of side effects up to this point. Kirk’s back pain has been an ongoing problem related to the cancer, not the treatments.

What has been the hardest thing about your MM journey?

  • My husband is asleep next to me on Day +7 of the stem cell transplant, but I believe the most difficult thing is saying goodbye to our old life where things felt safe and constant. I now realize it was a na├»ve frame of mind, but I miss it.

What are the top lessons learned that you would want a newly diagnosed MM patient to know about?

  • Embrace the treatment because it feels empowering when you are finally taking the right steps toward fixing the problem. The worst time for us was the uncertainty of what was going on inside Kirk’s body. Once he was diagnosed and his treatment began, we felt as though we were finally moving to a more positive place – and we felt ready for the fight.
How have you been able to stay positive and encouraged in your MM journey?

  • I am not going to lie – this is a realization that is very difficult to accept. And we still have our good days and our scary days, but our little boy is a wonderful source of joy for us! He is a daily reminder to Kirk that he must fight the good fight. We have a very strong support system of family and friends, and we also feel very positive by the recent advancements in research toward a cure for MM.

After being diagnosed... What perspective was changed the most?

  • About a month ago, Kirk and I were returning home from work, and Kirk realized that he forgot our house keys at the restaurant we own. He felt annoyed (after a long night of work) that we had to go back. It was a beautiful night, my mom was with the baby at home, and I just felt grateful to be in the car alone with my husband for just a few moments longer. I feel SO MUCH MORE appreciative of the time we have together, and I really enjoy the moments in life that feel normal and regular – like forgetting your keys somewhere.

Did you or a parent work in a field with or were exposed to toxic chemicals prior to diagnosis?

  • Kirk has been around asbestos and pesticides, but not for extended periods of time.

What MM sites or blogs had you found good information from after diagnosis?

  • Nick’s Myeloma
  • MM for dummies
  • Multiple Myeloma Blog

*Read other Myeloma Mondays by going here.

**To add your story to MM Mondays Story Time copy and paste this questionnaire (click here) and send it in an email to cancerkicker at gmail dot com. I would love to share your story! -Phil

1 comment:

stephanie said...

Kirk and Tiffany are two of the strongest people I know. They are amazing people who have a strength that can overcome all and any obsticles that may come their way. This experiance has been an emotional journey for all who love them. They are role models for all who are blessed to have them as a part of their lives, and they are the true meaning of love.