Adjusting to Life with Multiple Myeloma: Bernard’s Story
The night before he was due to run a marathon with two of his sons, Bernard wasn’t feeling well. He went to the doctor and after a range of tests and nearly a week in hospital, Bernard was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the second most common form of blood cancer.1
Multiple myeloma occurs when cancerous plasma cells grow uncontrollably and crowd out the normal plasma cells in bone marrow.2 Patients may experience persistent or recurrent bone pain, persistent fatigue, recurrent unexplained infections, nervous system disorders, and shortness of breath, among other symptoms. It is most frequently diagnosed in people aged 65-74.3
Prior to his diagnosis, Bernard, who is now 68, lived a full, active life with his wife, children and grandchildren. He traveled frequently from his home in Paris for work and enjoyed participating in high endurance sports, such as cycling and running. Following his diagnosis, Bernard has been forced to learn to manage his symptoms and understand when his body is trying to tell him to slow down.
“I have to get used to being tired and the pain in my bones, that’s debilitating. Before, I lived my life without ever really, truly listening to my body, thinking that I was untouchable,” Bernard said. “And the cancer, in some ways, forced me to take better care of my body and to be more attentive to those little things.”
Multiple myeloma doesn’t just affect the patient who receives the diagnosis—it affects the whole family, and this was no different for Bernard and his wife Marie-Pierre and their six children. “When we love someone, we try to do and to give what we have to help, to support them. We are also overcome by fear and anxiety,” Marie-Pierre said. “But no one knows what tomorrow will bring so we are living life to the fullest every day.”
1 Kazandjian. Multiple myeloma epidemiology and survival: A unique malignancy. Se min On col. 2016;43(6):676-681. dol: 10.1053/j/seminoncol.2016.11.004
2 International Myeloma Foundation. What is Multiple Myeloma? https://www.myeloma.org/what-is-multiple-myeloma. Accessed November 2019.
3 International Myeloma Foundation. Myeloma Action Month. http://mam.myeloma.org/educate/. Accessed November 2019.2/6
4 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Ageing 2017 - Highlights (ST/ESA/SER.A/397).
5 Globocan. Global Cancer Observatory Cancer Tomorrow. World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer Website. 2018. http://gco.iarc.fr/tomorrow/graphic-line?type=0&population=900&mode=population&sex=0&cancer=39&age_group=65%2B&apc_male=0&apc_female=0. Accessed on 26 Nov, 2019.