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John Pagenstecher

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Derek Johnson

multiple myeloma coach since 2023

I was diagnosed in 2019 at 34 years old, on my grandmother’s birthday. Though, symptoms were compounding for over 9 months. I had some cough and congestion that held-on for 1 1/2 months. Then I had extreme eczema on my hands which made it apparent my immune system was starting to go haywire. Finally, leading-up to diagnosis was extreme back pain and 1/2 hour long back spasms. Hindsight is 20/20. Obviously, I shouldn’t have gone 10 years without a blood test. With that in-mind, perhaps my Myeloma could have been caught sooner instead of 90% Myeloma concentration found at the ER with a subsequent 2 1/2 week hospital stay due to uncontrollable pain. Now, I advocate for anyone with odd symptoms to schedule a blood test as it could save their life! Though, it’s funny looking-back as my pup had regular blood tests… we’re educated that’s the best way to catch major health issues for our furry friends, right? My introduction to Myeloma and cancer was not gentle. I was kicked-into the fire pit. But thanks to close family support, my pup, and fortunately an A+ oncology team I’ve made it out the other side. As I was getting past the emergency phase and into the maintenance phase there were some real shockers. I learned that I was outside the normal age-range for this cancer. I learned nearly 6months after diagnosis that there is no cure. Thus, I’d be on cancer meds for the rest of my life. Finally, why would I need a stem cell transplant? I had a successful stem cell transplant experience in July of 2020. I’ll admit it was a rough ride, but the hospital food was beyond excellent and made it that much better. Having Cancer sucks. There’s no other way to put it. No one wants to receive news they or a loved one has cancer. Though, thanks to modern medicine, Multiple Myeloma can for the most part be kept under control and maintained. Sure, there may be some physical limitations due to cancerous effects on the body and/or side effects from medications. But thanks to new cancer medications, one can still live a life worth living with some alterations. Don’t allow this cancer to get the best of you…

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