I have survived two bouts of multiple myeloma cancer due to the Grace of God and two ADULT STEM CELL transplants.  Multiple myeloma is also called bone marrow cancer and is a blood cancer.  Multiple myeloma can also destroy bone.  I felt ill for 9 months and was treated for arthritis before I was tested with blood tests, x-rays and bone marrow biopsy which proved I had multiple myeloma cancer.


The first multiple myeloma cancer in 2003 affected my bones so that my x-rays looked like someone had used me for target practice.  I had “holes in my head” (which my dad had accused me of as a child). All through my chemotherapy I was given the drug, Zometa which promoted bone growth and my skull lesions filled in.  No longer do I have “holes in my head”.  I endured 5 months of chemo.


 In the sixth month I was an outpatient for 8 hours while my blood was circulated through a machine that pulled adult stem cells from my blood stream.  These cells were then frozen and stored until I was ready for my adult stem cell transplant.  Three bags of 1 oz. blood cells were stored.  Only one bag was needed for my transplant and the others remained frozen for future use.  Another day trip a catheter was inserted in my chest in which to apply the adult stem cell transplant and also check my blood counts.


May 2003 I was hospitalized in Syracuse University Hospital.   I was given a massive dose of chemo that lasted 15 minutes.  I lay in my sterile room for 5 days for the chemo to leave my body and then I was given my adult stem cells back through the catheter in my chest.  This procedure only lasted 15 minutes.  I was hospitalized for 3 weeks and monitored constantly to be sure my blood and organs were alright.  I was “reborn” on May 20, 2003.  The adult stem cells traveled to the core of my bones and begun growing me a new immune system and blood.  About 6 weeks later the catheter was removed.  I took medicines for a few months to help me recover with the transplant.


Two months after my adult stem cell transplant I was feeling “normal” and began taking long walks, dancing and traveling. For one year I had dietary restrictions and was told to avoid crowds, infectious people, small children, pets, earth, plants or anything that may have the ability to make me ill.    Six months after the transplant my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes were back to normal except for the color of my hair.  I had 3 wonderful, blessed years of life with friends and family before myeloma reared its ugly head again.


 The second bout of multiple myeloma cancer showed up in my monthly blood tests that I have done at oncologists wherever I am at the time.  I was visiting my son in TX when the oncologist there told me to see my regular oncologist when I returned home to NYS.  May 2006 at my regular oncologist in NY, I underwent a bone marrow biopsy, x-rays and blood work again.  The cancer had reappeared.


 This time my treatment was different.  I did not have to be hospitalized until the transplant.  I was given 4 months of Thalomid and a steroid and a schedule to follow.  I traveled during this time and did not have restrictions as I did during my first bout of this nasty cancer. Thalomid is a brand name for thalidomide which eats multiple myeloma cancer cells.  My cancer blood count went from 1505 to 56 and my bone marrow cancer count 61% to 6% cancer on these drugs. This time the myeloma cancer did not affect my bones at all!  I believe it was due to the Zometa that strengthened my bones plus the calcium and exercise I use. I was taken off all drugs for a month and then on Oct. 30, 2006 I was admitted to Syracuse University Hospital. .That same day I had another catheter installed and a few hours later a massive dose of chemotherapy to kill off the remaining cancer cells.


 On Nov. 1, 2006, this time only 2 days after my massive dose of chemo, my second stored bag of my adult stem cells was inserted into the catheter in my chest through a syringe.  I spent only 2 weeks in the hospital this time.  My catheter was removed within 2 weeks of my transplant and all went much better except for developing c-diff.  C-diff is a loose bowel problem that comes from too many antibiotics but as my body needed protection from infection, c-diff was a small price to pay.  After 2 weeks of medication it disappeared.  This time my hair did not fall out until after I returned home from the hospital as my only chemo was at that time.  My eyebrows and eyelashes never fell out and my head didn’t resemble a billiard ball this time. 


After a couple months I felt “normal” again except for being bald.  This time I don’t have as many restrictions except for avoiding crowds and sick people.  I have no dietary restriction this time. I was on medicines for 3 months to help my immune system.   I am on antibiotics twice a week for six months.  I will receive immunizations starting Nov. 2007 for childhood diseases as my blood has no immunizations in it from my own childhood years.  I will need all the shots people receive.  This was not done with the first bout of cancer. 


There is much more to my story and I hope to get it published.  I want people to be informed and to give hope.  No embryos had to die for me to live.  Adult stem cells can be from a donor, a relative but the best is from you (autologous).


-         Carol Franz


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