It’s all in the numbers

Monoclonal immunoglobulin, or more commonly known as M-protein, is one of the telltale signs of multiple myeloma. I have been sitting at or near zero since my stem cell transplant six years ago.

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April 2019

3.2 – my M-protein level detected in June 2018 at a regular bloodwork appointment. Monoclonal immunoglobulin, or more commonly known as M-protein, is one of the telltale signs of multiple myeloma. I have been sitting at or near zero since my stem cell transplant six years ago.

6.5 – my M-protein level in September 2018. Something’s brewing in my body.
Dr. Tiedemann has said not to worry until it reaches double digit numbers, so I take a deep breath.

12.9 – my M-protein level in Jan 2019. I finally muster the courage to tell Shayne and Sabrina.

16.4 – my M-protein level in April 2019. The writing is on the wall. My myeloma is making a comeback. Treatment is inevitable.  4 months of chemotherapy. A second stem cell transplant.  3 to 6 months of recovery. My mind begins recollecting difficult memories of depleted energy, blood transfusions, hair falling out, yo-yo emotions and hospital stays.

“Can I start treatment in August?” I ask Dr. Tiedemann. I had planned a trip to Nairobi in July for a delicious month of hanging out with Sabrina for precious mother-daughter time.  A time to enjoy long hikes and bake muffins, of deep conversations in pyjamas and mini getaways.

Dr. Tiedemann listened to my plan and shared his concerns that if I wait until August, I run the risk of bone lesions and kidney failure, common symptoms of myeloma.

Shayne had the brilliant idea to move my trip up a couple of months. We secured dates for May and I felt a sense of energy and excitement to pack my bags. I’ve always been a believer in “ending before you begin”, and time with my kids in Nairobi would be the perfect way to “end” before I begin a year of treatment.

As quickly as the excitement rose, it burst in a giant, unanticipated pop. At an appointment with my family doctor, Dr. Baghdadlian, the following week, my hemoglobin showed a sudden drop to the 90’s, the nose bleeds began and I started to feel tired. This was similar to how I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma all those years ago. Given my history, my family doctor, who is also an infectious disease specialist, forbade me to travel. I called the kids with the news.

I asked my family for space and permission to just be, without questions or judgement while I processed what was happening to me.  I cried.  I slept a lot.  I prayed.  When I was ready, I spoke to Nagib, Shayne, Sabrina and Afzal.  We talked about options, about how everyone was feeling and how we could support each other.

After nine days, I pulled myself together and started to see my situation in a different light.  On average, a stem cell transplant lasts for 3 years (3.5 years if you are on maintenance drugs).  My stem cell has lasted 6 glorious years without maintenance drugs.  Myeloma is an incurable cancer and there was no question that one day the cancer would come back.  The fact that it took so long to return is indeed a blessing.  Dr. Tiedemann also reminded me that this time I would not need to get my stem cells harvested, which was a huge issue six year ago when my body refused to produce enough stem cells for the transplant.  Now I have a bag of stem cells just sitting in a frozen container on the 12th Floor of Princess Margaret Hospital, waiting for me when its transplant time.

The only question now is when do I start treatment.  Every two weeks, I get bloodwork done that will determine the optimum time to begin chemotherapy.  If I were a betting person, my guess is that I will begin chemotherapy in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I am preparing my body to deal with the ravages of chemotherapy by working out and eating right.

After dealing with 3 cancers, my approach to this latest saga is to succumb and surrender to the will of God, and to do so joyfully.  Mentally, I am ready for what comes next. Emotionally, I am prepared. Physically, I am a bit tired.  Now I wait.

Photo: Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, the most South-Western point of the African Continent, according to the numbers (February 2019).

18 thoughts on “It’s all in the numbers”

  1. Sorry to hear about your problem coming back. We pray your treatment goes well. You have always been smiling . Very proud of your family too who have given their support for you to fight this cancer.

  2. I love you spirit and courage, Munira ! Praying for the most favourable conditions for you and best outcome! God bless you and family and guide you. Take good care. xox

  3. Munira, you are an incredibly positive, brave and strong person with the right focus and priorities in life. I wish you well in your treatment and looking forward to seeing you win this battle too. Sending you good wishes, vibes and prayers….

  4. You are one beautiful, strong, courageous lady and you inspire me.
    Praying for you and sending you lots of positive energy.

  5. You are a warrior, and you will survive!
    You also have the most amazing supportive family. I have never met any of you, but I feel like I know you all as I have been following your blog for a very long time now. Sending you all lots of love, hugs and prayers from Tanzania.

  6. Sorry to see this post, but happy that treatment will start soon and that you’re gearing up for it. I can’t believe that six years has flown by. I can’t imagine what you go through, any more than I can imagine what my husband goes through with his CLL when it makes a comeback. But, I do know that you are one positive person and this is enormously helpful. I also know that medical advances happen daily and this is great news. Take care of your sweet self. xx

  7. You are such a strong positive person and you can do this Mukhianima
    Love and our prayers for you Mukhianima

    1. Munni
      You are such a positive and energetic lady, you will be fine. Mowla will always hold your hand and make better than ever. My prayers are with you and your family

  8. You are very strong and positive person. You have determination and will. Knowing you Mukhiani Ma with support from the family (Nageeb and the kids) and the WJK Family you will our with flying colours. Invitation to cottage is always open to come and see the ‘ Blue Jays’ .

  9. You are a rock. I can’t think of anyone who could handle this your grace, courage and positivity. Somehow, no matter what hand you are dealt, you accept it and play like a champion. Sending you the squeeziest hugs xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  10. Sending you much love and lots of prayers for a quick and complete recovery. Your positive attitude is an inspiration to many.

  11. You will be in my prayers!

    May you have strength & Smile on your face, as always!

    Nasim

    *www.mumsflowers.ca *

    *Nasim@goflower.com *

    *30+ years of Blooming Service with a smile.*

    *905-568-1777*

    *Platinum Award 2017 – Reders Choice*

    *Consumer Choice Award 2019*

    [image: Chrysanthemum]

    *From:* I WILL SURVIVE [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] *Sent:* May-24-19 4:07 PM *To:* nasim@goflower.com *Subject:* [New post] It’s all in the numbers

    Munira Premji posted: “April 2019 3.2 – my M-protein level detected in June 2018 at a regular bloodwork appointment. Monoclonal immunoglobulin, or more commonly known as M-protein, is one of the telltale signs of multiple myeloma. I have been sitting at or near zero since my”

  12. You are an incredibly strong girl. I have read many of your posts that depict a woman of immense strength and conviction. I send good wishes for recovery through this stem cell transfusion. I remember your family from Moshi.

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