Thursday, 5 June 2008

Myeloma- how come?

Firstly, thanks to Don in the States for the supportive comments etc.

Second, as a quick update- now in the last week of cycle two and drifting along- I really don't like the thalidomide because as well as the physical side it also seems to take away energy and motivation to do things- at least in me. I'm also having my jaw/gum looked at again as there does seem to be a bit of change there- so off for x ray etc.

One of the questions I haven't a good answer to is why I got myeloma. I don't mean this in the sense of why me? I've never asked the question in that way and have never asked what I've done to deserve this- I simply assume we are all likely to fall ill in some way and in my case its the myeloma. The question for me is more about what factors led to me getting multiple myeloma. The medical literature isn't really much help as there is no definitive statement as to what factors predispose someone to myeloma- in short, we don't really know though it does appear that there is an increase in the number of folks with myeloma.

It might also not be helpful to look for the factors leading to myeloma around diagnosis time. My myeloma appeared in August/September 2003 but I'd been told as early as 1994 - as a result of a biopsy for something else- that I had a paraprotein spike in my blood and might get myeloma further down the line. I've two broad lines of thought regarding me and myeloma. One is that I grew up in extreme poverty in a house that was in an appalling condition by anyone's standards( beginning to sound like the Monty Python sketch- we were so poor that......) and where my brother and sister contracted TB- in the case of my sister involving many years of treatment. (As a quick aside I can also remember being collected by one of the local charities to take me to a pantomime in Aberdeen and being on a bus with all these other children and thinking " These must be the poor children"- never of course putting myself in that category!). So conditions were really quite bad and we were open to all kinds of things. One of the consequences of the TB in the house is that from my earliest days I was monitored for TB and had 3 monthly x rays all through primary school. A number of us with myeloma do seem to have had exposure to lots of x rays when we were younger. Mmmmm.

What the literature also suggests is that there may be a link to pesticides and in my case there could be a very strong link. You all know by now of my love affair with the Ferguson tractor and that I worked on farms all through my school and student days. When I was driving age one of the jobs I had was spraying the raspberry plants with a big tank of pesticide on the back of the tractor, Raspberry bushes are of course planted in rows and so the tractor being a small one for access reasons is pretty much enclosed in between the rows and any spraying means the driver is exposed to the chemicals. In my case, I was spraying Malathion- a pretty aggressive pesticide- and doing so for days and weeks on end and with absolutely no protection- sometimes filling up the spray tank from cans and then having my sandwiches sitting amongst all the cans/fumes etc. These are practices that no farm would get away with at all now. So I wonder about that as well.

The fact is though that there is no definitive answer though the fact that numbers of myeloma patients are increasing does suggest a common factor of some kind- life style? treatment of food by things like pesticides etc?

1 comment:

Don said...

How interesting! When I was a teenager (50 years ago) I worked in my uncle's garden store, and accidentally toppled a bottle of Malathion concentrate, which spilled all over the porous concrete floor. Even after cleanup it smelled pretty strong for the rest of the summer.

Malathion was supposed to be pretty safe, but I bet nobody did long-term cancer studies on it.

I wonder how far back we need to go to look for a trigger. You suppose 50 years is too far?