After receiving a diagnosis of multiple myeloma from my primary care physician in April, 2008, my wife and I were in a state of shock. And even after coming under the care of a local oncologist specializing in blood cancers, we were still trying to process what all this means to us and our family.
About a month later I started to see a new dentist and mentioned as a part of our initial consultation that I had multiple myeloma. The dentist immediately said that a close friend of the family had sadly recently passed away from this terrible disease and noted that the family, the McCulloch's, had connected with a wonderful oncologist at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Dr. Robert Vescio. He said that they strongly felt that they unfortunately found the doctor too late. What a sad revelation!
I'm the benefit of that revelation. I was put in contact with Karen McCulloch that day and Karen got me to the "head of the line" for an appointment with Dr. Vescio within a week. After consultation and additional sophisticated test including PET scans, Dr. Vescio found that I fortunately had an indolent form of multiple myeloma which was completely contrary to what I had been told by my "local" doctors.
There were significant ups and downs over the next couple of years but throughout, Karen provided very strong emotional support for what I and my family went through. A couple significant experiences were a severe infection in a stem cell transfer process that hospitalized me for two weeks and recovering from overdosing of a drug to help with neuropathy. My local oncologist had prescribed gabapentin to mitigate the neuropathy caused by the chemotherapy. Unfortunately he didn't read the manufacturer's prescribing directions for patients with chronic kidney disease and over-prescribed gabapentin that caused me to need to start kidney dialysis. That dialysis episode, three months, was an awful experience and a particular low point. Again, Karen was emotionally very supportive and kept us focused on what was being accomplished and all of the good things that had already occurred... remission of the multiple myeloma!
Today, with both the extraordinary help of Dr. Vescio and also an Integrative Medicine doctor, Dr. Allan Sosin, who I credit with keeping my immune system strong, (in addition to the good news on the myeloma, I have not had a cold or a sore throat for three years which used to occur two or three times a year) the multiple myeloma is under control with only regular steroid (prednisone) use and the kidneys, which have been severely compromised with the initial myeloma disease are holding their own and doing fine. What a lucky guy I am... to have met Karen... better than winning the lottery.