Connie's Cancer Journey
“I’m a bit of a health nut and was on a routine jog in 2010, when I got a severe nosebleed that just couldn’t be stopped. Soon after, the nosebleeds increased and I began to experience general body aches, especially in my hips and knees along with numbness in my feet. I never would have guessed these were symptoms of my cancer.”
Connie’s nosebleeds and numbness began in fall 2010. During her routine physical in January 2011, she mentioned the symptoms to her family physician who promptly ordered a blood test. The test showed unusual PTT (a blood clotting test) and glucose levels. As a precaution, Connie took the blood test three times and when the odd results continued, she was referred to an oncologist. Her medical oncologist shared her case with colleagues at a hematology conference that winter and she was soon diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia. This cancer is difficult to diagnose because it is so rare and can vary in symptom presentation. While some people may have nosebleeds, others may experience high blood pressure, eyesight issues and a host of other symptoms.
That April, Connie began chemotherapy and continued with monthly rounds through September. The chemotherapy was effective in normalizing her blood levels and the numbness in her hands and feet (neuropathy) improved. Connie continued to visit her oncologist while in remission for routine checkups and in 2014, her cancer relapsed. She was referred to a clinical trial under the care of Dr. Matous.
Connie enrolled onto the study in November 2014 which, at that time, was a blinded study. A blinded study means that some patients receive the drug that is being tested in the trial, and some patients receive a placebo drug. In January, she began to feel worse and it was disclosed that she was receiving the placebo coupled with standard medication. She then was given the real study drug and experienced positive results right away. She began to regain her strength and the color returned to her face. Now, her blood levels and neuropathy continue to improve. Connie visits Dr. Matous every two months for blood work and takes three pills a day to combat her cancer.
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