What happens in multiple myeloma? Watch as myeloma expert Dr. Peter Forsberg explains what occurs in the body with myeloma, and patient and Empowerment Lead Lisa Hatfield shares emotions she experienced after her diagnosis and how her outlook changed as she learned about myeloma treatment.
Dr. Peter Forsberg:
So, multiple myeloma is a blood cancer. It comes from cells that live in your bone marrow called plasma cells. They’re part of your immune system. And when they do their job, they help protect you from infections.
They’re antibody-producing cells. In myeloma, unfortunately something changes in those cells, and they begin to grow and live beyond what they normally would. So, myeloma is a disease that results from that and when myeloma is diagnosed, it’s usually because those plasma cells or the antibody they produce has started to cause problems, to cause destructive changes or symptoms. So, that’s multiple myeloma.
When I first really understood what myeloma was, I think it’s natural to freak out at first. It’s an incurable blood cancer. You hear the word “incurable” first, and it’s very very scary. Once I digested some of the information I was receiving and understood it’s a type of blood cancer that can be managed nowadays – it’s a little bit different than 20 years ago when it felt more like a death sentence that could be managed – I started to feel a little more confident. I think initially I had to understand that I would probably go through this grief cycle and have a little bit of shock, have some denial, have some anger. But once I accepted that, it became a lot easier. But when I first understood myeloma, it was was scary, it was shocking. And it just took some time to finally settle in and understand it better.