Multiple Myeloma Survivor

Survivor finds hope through a little ‘PRIDE’

Retired U.S. Army officer Greg Hunt refused to give up the battle for his health after his multiple myeloma diagnosis, and through his faith and his physicians, he achieved complete remission and a great quality of life. He continues to share his “PRIDE” mantra to inspire hope in others battling this disease:

  P: Pray
  R: Be resilient
  I: Find your inner peace
  D: Do your due diligence
  E: Enjoy life

 

Nobody wants to hear the “C” word, but nevertheless I was diagnosed with Stage III multiple myeloma during an annual physical. A follow up MRI and skeletal exam revealed lesions throughout my body. It was extremely difficult for me to hear my diagnosis; no one wants to find out that your health has abandoned you and that everything you know to be true is changing. Things that were once important paled in comparison to the fight ahead. I decided to prepare, however, for myself and my family by learning about multiple myeloma and the various treatment options with the most up-to-date information available. The Myeloma Beacon (www.myelomabeacon.com) and the International Myeloma Post offered content that I found both reliable and helpful.

I also asked my physician for a referral to the best oncologist in the area, and was extremely blessed and grateful to find a dedicated, compassionate team of doctors nearby. They informed me about the different treatment philosophies – including the concept of “cure vs. control” – and helped me decide the best treatment plan for me.

After consulting with my oncologist and a transplant team, we proceeded with a tandem transplant: two autologous transplants in a row. The first transplant extracted my own stem cells and was followed by two courses of high-dose chemotherapy. The second transplant reintroduced my pre-chemo stem cells back into my body. Following the transplants, I started thalidomide (Thalomid) and stayed on it for four years. I then switched to lenalidomide (Revlimid) and have been on it since as a maintenance therapy.

It’s important that you ask your doctor about his or her treatment philosophy and any experience in dealing with multiple myeloma. Every person responds to treatment differently, and building a relationship with your medical team only makes it stronger. My team helped me to enhance my quality of life throughout the entire treatment process, and I learned to manage my symptoms well. A healthy diet and exercise helped me maintain my focus on enjoying life. I do experience a loss of bowel control from time to time, but it’s only a minor issue and easily treated with medication on an as-needed basis. I also take escitalopram (Lexapro) to help with depression and mood swings.

My wife, LaDonna, and my family and friends are my caregivers and biggest supporters; they’ve helped me overcome my fears and not only fight, but survive, this disease one day at a time. They’ve been by my side every step of the way, helping me to peacefully heal and slowly return to enjoying a good quality of life. I also joined a local multiple myeloma support group, which really helped me understand that I’m not alone. Through it all, this disease has proven to me that I have a reason to live and to fight for it. Every day that I survive is another day I’ve won the battle against this disease. Plus, I now have a new appreciation and a great hope for each and every day.

You must discover what you want to live for and then fight for it; only you truly know the answer. It’s also vital to educate yourself and find a medical team you can trust. You’ll receive all sorts of advice from people wishing you well, but you and your medical team will be able to decide the best options for you. Through God’s grace, my doctors and the lenalidomide, I’ve achieved stringent complete remission and have a good quality of life! Always have hope and never give up the battle.

 

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