After my fiasco with the 24-hour urine collection this week, I didn't know whether they would get any decent test results. However, I checked the Patient Gateway web site today and found results posted for both my blood and urine electrophoresis. Fortunately, they both came back negative with no monoclonal protein detected. That's great! I made it through another month. I don't overly stress about this, but there is always this slight anxiety every month wondering if my time has run out. Thankfully, it hasn't.
Today I had my annual dermatology exam. Being a fair-haired Irishman who has gotten many a sunburn, I have had my share of skin cancer issues over the years. For the most part, they have been relatively minor basal cell carcinomas. I did have one squamous cell carcinoma many years ago, but the scariest one was the Stage 0 in situ melanoma that I had a few years back. Fortunately, in situ melanomas have not yet penetrated the dermal layer, so they are unable to metastasize. It was removed and I have been OK since. Given my history, these annual checkups are important.
Aside from my own history and proclivity for contacting various forms of skin cancer, my MM treatment adds another element of concern. As part of my stem cell transplant, I received a heavy dose of Melphalan to kill the stem cells in my bone marrow. Melphalan has been known to increase the risk of secondary cancers. On top of that, I have been taking Revlimid for a year and a half now. There has been a recent flap over the finding that Revlimid increases the risk of secondary cancers. After a lot of study, most oncologists (including Dr. Richardson) have concluded that the additional risk is slight (2-3%), and the benefits to MM patients of taking Rev far outweigh the additional secondary cancer risk. However, I was not too pleased to learn that melanoma is one of the more prevalent secondary cancers linked to long-term Revlimid use.
Today's visit with Dr. Reohr went pretty well. I have a few non-malignant keratoses on my face, which she froze by spraying them with liquid nitrogen (called cryosurgery). It seems oxymoronic, but that cold stuff really burns! She did find one questionable spot on my left arm. She wasn't too concerned about it, but she took a biopsy just to make sure. I'll get the biopsy results in a couple of weeks. Assuming that it's OK, I don't go back for another year.
I am pleased to report that I am still going to the gym 3-4 times a week. It's been over a month and I haven't dropped out yet. Now that I have publicly announced this on my blog, I feel like I'm under a lot of pressure to keep going. It would be embarrassing to have to admit to the world that I quit going and that I am a complete worthless failure.
I am looking forward to my annual golf outing to Ocean Isle Beach, NC next month. I am hoping that by then my weight training may have built up a little muscle mass that might help my drives off the tee. It has been disconcerting over the years to see my shots getting shorter and shorter. Losing all that weight since my MM diagnosis also hasn't helped in that regard. If things were to keep deteriorating, the day might come when I won't be able to hit a drive beyond the ladies' tee. For you golfers out there, you know what embarrassment that would entail.
I have just finished a wonderful novel written by one of my fellow Writing Seminar attendees at Dana Farber. The novel is "Flowers of the Sea", by Eric Schoonover. The plot is about uncovering an old mystery involving a presumed love child from World War I, and much of the action takes place at sea. I found it quite engrossing. The opportunity I have been given to get to know people such as Eric is one of the Silver Linings surrounding the cloud of my Multiple Myeloma.