March has been designated Multiple Myeloma month
Read the story of Kim Miller from Ceres NY
Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that causes malignant plasma cells to accumulate in bone marrow. It is the second most prevalent blood cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 34,470 people living in the United States were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2022. This number includes Kimberly Miller, a resident of Ceres, NY, and the receptionist at the Wilmot Cancer Institute Oncology and Infusion Center at Jones Memorial Hospital.
To raise awareness and put a face behind the statistics, the theme this year is #MYelomaStory.
Kim’s story began in August 2022, when she started experiencing intense pain in her lower back, hip and groin. Her Olean-based primary care provider told her it sounded like diverticulitis and she was advised to go to the Emergency Room. “That was frustrating because even with my limited medical knowledge, I knew I did not have diverticulitis,” she said. “I decided to wait a week and see if it got better.” But it didn’t.
By late September, the pain became so unbearable she went to closest ER where she underwent a battery of tests including blood work, urine tests, bone and bone marrow testing, an abdominal and a spinal CT. With no family history of cancer, she was shocked when the ER provider diagnosed her with multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma symptoms may not be present in the early stages and are often non-specific like loss of appetite, bone pain, fever, frequent need to urinate, increased thirst, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.
Kim is currently being treated by Oncologist Yasar Shad, MD at the Wilmot Cancer Institute Oncology and Infusion Center Part of Jones Memorial Hospital in Olean. Her treatment so far has included four cycles of chemotherapy, five sessions of radiation, and a spinal surgery. Now in her fifth cycle of chemo, Kim is anticipating a stem cell transplant in April. This is a procedure in which her bone marrowstem cells are removed from the blood and infused after a high dose of chemotherapy.
There’s no cure for the large majority of patients, but as myeloma treatments are advancing, people have more hope in managing the disease.
“I am thankful for all of the support I have received from staff at Jones Memorial Hospital (particularly Infusion and Oncology where I am receptionist), Strong Memorial Hospital, and Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong,” she said. “I know I have many, many people praying for me, and being able to get the treatment I need closer to home has been a blessing.”