Today's Multiple Myeloma Monday is very special to me because after being diagnosed as young Myeloma patient, Shaun Mason who also happens to be a former college football player (Michigan State) was my beacon of hope as I was in search of other young people with MM. His story is truly inspirational and I lean heavily on their unfolding story for strength.
Where were you born and raised?
Where do you currently live?
When were you diagnosed and how old were you?
01/15/2001- age 23
Did you know what MM was prior to diagnosis?
Had never heard of the disease
Is there anyone else your in family with MM?
What led to your diagnosis? (example: broken vertebra)
Dislocated my shoulder and fractured my scapula in a college football all star game.(2001)
Two vertebrae collapsed in my spine(2003)
How many times were you referred before actually being diagnosed?
Where have you received treatment?
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Explain your treatment history:
2/2001: local radiation on shoulder and scapula on plasma cytoma
3/2003: fractured two vertebrae full blown multiple myeloma diagnosed
3/2003: started VAD treatments
9/2003: completed VAD
Why did you or your doctor choose a specific treatment (For example, to have a transplant or not have a transplant, etc.)?
We discussed multiple options and decided on my treatment because of the reconstruction on my spine and my age. We knew if an autologous transplant was not responsive I could try other options, fortunately so far things have worked out.
What has been the side effects of the different treatments?
Experienced minimal side effects: complete hair loss, restlessness, weight gain and weight loss.
What has been the hardest thing about your MM journey?
The fear of not being there for my child and wife. Also my biggest inspiration.
What are the top lessons learned that you would want a newly diagnosed MM patient to know about?
You will find out quickly that once you are over the initial shock that it did happen to you, and you get over the why me. You will find there are treatments options and this is not the end of the road. Stay positive- you will find out quickly that it can always be much worse-look around in the waiting room at the hospital.
How have you been able to stay positive and encouraged in your MM journey?
At first it is hard to stay positive because quite honestly the things you read about multiple myeloma are very grim and the outlook does not look promising. However, I am a firm believer that one of the biggest contributors to beating this disease is staying positive. I have two huge inspirations that drive me. The first one has been my son, when I was diagnosed my wife was pregnant with him. I thank God everyday that I am here to see him grow up and I will do whatever it takes to see him grow up. He just turned 7 in June. I want him to know his dad. I think this disease has certainly made me a better father because I cherish every minute that I get to spend with him. The second has been by wife because when I was diagnosed, she was 6 months pregnant with our son and it was as if she was not even pregnant. Instead of normal preganancy my wife slept on couchs and chairs in the hospital. She did whatever was necessary for me to get me through my chemo and transplants. It was simply amazing. So to say the least I owe these two individuals a father and husband, and that is my inspiration in staying positive and encouraged through this whole ordeal. I will do whatever it takes to give them that.
After being diagnosed... What perspective was changed the most?
You learn quickly what is most important in your life and what you thought were priorities are not really priorities at all but rather luxuries.
Did you or a parent work in a field with or were exposed to toxic chemicals prior to diagnosis?
No, but I did grow up in a neighborhood that was literally surrounded by farm fields.
What MM sites or blogs had you found good information from after diagnosis?