During the months I spent in the chemotherapy center when I still had blood cancer, I got to speak and exchange stories with various patients and their loved ones every session. Sometimes, it would be young kids who seemed so lively when they arrive. Other times, I would meet folks around my age who merely wanted to beat the C word and live the rest of their lives cancer-free like me.
In rare occasions, though, there would be people beyond 40 years old with multiple myeloma. This kind of blood disease is considerably incurable, so one tends to wonder why these individuals would still subject themselves to a treatment that could never guarantee to heal. Nevertheless, a standard answer I heard was, “I want to live longer. If chemotherapy can slow down cancer’s progression, I’ll take it.”
Other than feeling inspired by the strength that multiple myeloma patients show, I also got interested to know more about this unique blood cancer. Let me share some things I found out about the disease.
It Is Not Interchangeable With Leukemia
Having multiple myeloma entails that your B cells inside the bone transform into plasma cells when an infection occurs. As for leukemia, the bone marrow produces an excessive amount of white blood cells, to the point that the platelet and red blood cell counts become imbalanced. With this apparent difference in mind, the two blood cancers should not ever get interchanged.
The Abnormalities Occur At Chromosomal Level
What scientists have learned about myeloma is that it can affect the chromosomes, a part of a cell that houses the DNA. These usually get numbered from one to 46, given that a human being has 13 male and female chromosomes each. With the infection going on, some of the chromosomes may change positions. In other cases, deletion may take place, so one of the chromosomes may end up missing. Either occurrence can impede the growth of healthy cells.
It Can Be Hereditary
Quite interestingly, multiple myeloma is a condition that your ancestors can pass down on you and other descendants. Once it develops in one family member, it seems impossible for another person from the same brood to show symptoms of the disease as well.
Bone Damage May Be Inevitable
Considering the illness starts within the bone, it is not surprising to know that 80 percent of the individuals living with multiple myeloma acquire different types of bone diseases. Many are in pain 24/7 because of the destructive lesions or fractures that form on the problematic areas. Others may not be able to walk or move and come down with more health conditions since their bodies hardly generate cells that boost immunity.
High Blood Calcium Causes More Symptoms To Appear
When you have myeloma, it is also not impossible for an excessive amount of calcium to enter your bloodstream. Once this issue does not get contained instantly, you may deal with constipation, confusion, and frequent urination, which can only increase the weakness you already feel.
Multiple myeloma remains as a mysterious form of blood cancer. It baffles the medical world due to how the cells change within its core and the fact that African-American men are more prone to the disease than women or others from various races. Doctors say that it is incurable up to this day too.
If it serves as any consolation, though, you should also be aware of the fact that research is ongoing for multiple myeloma. Although there’s no guarantee that there will be a cure in the coming years, the scientists are investigating other ways to treat the illness more efficiently.