Long-Term Multiple Myeloma Survivor- If I Knew Then What I Know Now

I went under the knife four days later and woke up eight hours after that. Dr. Makely gently explained that I had multiple myeloma.  I was told that myeloma was an incurable but very treatable (?) blood cancer.

It took me years to figure it out but conventional oncology’s definition of treatable is very different from a multiple myeloma patient’s definition of treatable. My oncologist prescribed chemotherapy and radiation that caused short, long-term and late stage side effects that I struggle with to this day.

Ever wondered about the saying “The Cure is worse than the Disease?”

I now understand that FDA approved, standard-of-care Multiple Myeloma protocols are excellent at stabilizing the newly diagnosed patient’s MM. But painful experience taught me that the more chemo and radiation the patients has, the greater the risk of short, long-term and late stage side effects.

Further, there are dozens of evidence-based complementary and integrative therapies that research has shown can enhance chemotherapy and radiation and/or can kill MM. Nutrition, anti-oxidant supplements and lifestyle therapies such as whole-body hyperthermia can kill MM as well as help us keep us MM survivors strong before, during and after therapy.

My myeloma experience illustrates why conventional MM oncology is only a small piece of the multiple myeloma picture. Newly diagnosed MM patients and long-term MM survivors must use the best of both conventional evidence-based non-conventional MM therapies.

The Multiple Myeloma Cancer Coaching Program provides what I have learned from my MM experience over the past 26 years- both conventional and non-conventional MM therapies. 

In January of  1995, 10 months after my diagnosis of a pre-myeloma, I felt pain and tingling extending from my lower back down my left leg. The pathology report was difficult to understand so I will transcribe exactly what was written.

“Evidence of equivocal staining for epsilon heavy chains, suggests the unlikely possibility of IgE type plasma cell dyscrasia. Serum IgE quantitation will be helpful in excluding this possibility if it is clinically warranted.”

My pre-myeloma had developed into frank multiple myeloma. Dr. Berger told me that I should begin induction chemotherapy of  (V.A.D.-vincristine, adriamycin, dexamethasone)  followed by high dose cytoxan and an autologous stem cell transplant, all in 1995.

I underwent radiation to my sacrum and iliac crest and then began induction chemotherapy from April-May of 1995. Shortly after my first cycle of V.A.D. I developed a deep-vein thrombosis in my left leg. I completed 6 courses of V.A.D. from April-August ’95.

That September I had two courses of high-dose chemo (cytoxan)  and in December of 1995 I underwent an autologous stem cell transplant. I relapsed 10 months after my ASCT (October of 1996)  and underwent more radiation to my sacrum.

On September 30th, 1997, at my appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Ann Rassiga, my third oncologist in three years,  I was told that they had tried radiation and multiple chemotherapy regimens. Sadly Dr. Rassiga told me that “there is nothing more that we can do for you.”

I was young (36) and in otherwise good health. I had a difficult time thinking that I was end-stage. Perhaps I was in denial…and a little angry. Okay, I was a lot angry.

During the summer of ’97 my wife Dawn did some research on the Internet and found a clinic in Houston, Texas called The Burzynski Research Institute (BRI). I knew NOTHING about alternative cancer therapy. I only knew that I had to do something about my cancer (that was beginning to really hurt). I didn’t want to go to Germany (Dr. Hans Neiper), the Bahamas (IPT), or Mexico.

In November of 1997 I traveled to the BRI where I began antineoplaston therapy (ANP), a non-FDA approved therapy.

Over the next 17 months my “incurable” cancer slowly retreated and I have been cancer-free since April of 1999. Monthly MRI scans document the progression from end-stage MM to complete remission.

My health insurance, Medical Mutual of Ohio,  deemed the non-toxic chemotherapy that took me from end-stage cancer to cancer-free to be “not medically necessary” and denied payment for it.

The autologous stem cell transplant that my oncologist ordered was also “experimental” and NOT FDA approved as of 1995. But for some reason, Medical Mutual of Ohio paid for the ASCT but not Antineoplaston Therapy.  

I launched the Galen Foundation in 2004. I created PeopleBeatingCancer.org to research and communicate with fellow cancer survivors and provide information about my primary cancer, Multiple Myeloma, as well as the short, long-term and late stage side effects of those therapies that caused so much damage to me including:

ANP from the Burzynski Research Institute put me into complete remission from my end-stage MM. However, MMers always relapse. Always. Further, my risk of a treatment-related secondary cancer is more than 25% annually.

I have remained in complete remission since 4/99 by living an evidence-based, non-toxic, anti-MM lifestyle through nutrition, supplementation, bone health, mind-body and lifestyle therapies.

  • I live with more than six serious long-term/late stage side effects. Conventional therapies caused a great deal of harm and provided no real benefit-
  • I manage these side effects by living an anti-MM lifestyle DAILY-
  • I look forward to my birthdays. Getting older is a badge of courage for me. Unlike most cancer patients, I want to be defined by my cancer. My scars are another type of badge of courage for me-

Providing evidence-based, non-toxic, anti-MM therapies through the PeopleBeatingCancer MM Cancer Coaching Program is my purpose in life. I’ve learned that if you are diagnosed with cancer knowledge is power. 

David Emerson

  • MM Survivor
  • MM Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

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