ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET…THE MYELOMA CHALLENGE

I'm 42 years old, (was 39 when life went somewhat awry) with no history of illness, Ironman finisher who has been diagnosed with myeloma. Did not see this coming. This blog summarises my journey from unexpected diagnosis through the treatment path. My aim is to use myeloma as a catalyst for living a better, more fulfilling life and documenting the changes I am making in all aspects of my family and work commitments.

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Myeloma Cancer

Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, is a cancer arising from plasma cells, a type of white blood cell which is made in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the ‘spongy’ material found in the centre of the larger bones in the body. The bone marrow is where all blood cells are made.

Plasma cells form part of your immune system. Normal plasma cells produce antibodies, also called immunoglobulins, to help fight infection.

In myeloma, plasma cells become abnormal, multiply uncontrollably and release only one type of antibody known as paraprotein, which has no useful function. It is often through the measurement of this paraprotein that myeloma is diagnosed and monitored.

Unlike many cancers, myeloma does not exist as a lump or tumour. Most of the symptoms and complications are caused by the build-up of the abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow and the presence of the paraprotein in the blood and/or in the urine.

Myeloma affects multiple places in the body (hence ‘multiple’ myeloma) where bone marrow is normally active in an adult, ie within the bones of the spine, skull, pelvis, the rib cage, long bones of the arms and legs and the areas around the shoulders and hips.

It is a relapsing-remitting cancer. This means there are periods when symptoms and/or complications need treating, followed by periods of remission or plateau where the cancer does not cause symptoms and does not require treatment.

Source: www.myeloma.org.uk

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