Friday, May 3rd, was my birthday but it was just a continuation of the roller coaster Patty and I had been on throughout the week. For the past several months I have had very marked weakness. Earlier in the year I was walking four miles a day five days a week before work, but as time went on I had trouble walking to campus. I started getting skin infections in different parts of my body that stubbornly wouldn’t heal. I had a lot of pain in different bones in my body. I met with a doctor who works in our clinic. The doctor spent about 45 minutes with me going over all my symptoms. She was leaving on a trip, but wrote out an order for about 11-12 pages of blood tests.
I got the tests done, and on Tuesday when I picked them up, I sat down in the waiting room to look them over. I couldn’t make much out of the different values, but many were way up or way down from normal. It shook me up a little and I called Patty to tell her that I was going over to the hospital where I had spent a week or more two years ago. I just had my auto rickshaw driver with me. I walked up to the registration desk and said I needed to meet with an Internal Medicine specialist. A met a very fine, doctor who welcomed me in, listened to my story and then started working through the reports.
After making several notes and picking certain values to put together in a group, he looked at me and said, “Mr. Larson, I’m sorry to tell you that you have Multiple Myeloma.” For several years I have had a condition that is sometimes a precursor to MM, but I had always heard that only about 10% developed the disease. That meant 90% did not, right?
He said he needed to do a bone marrow biopsy and a few very specific blood tests. He called down to the lab just as the chief lab physician was leaving. She agreed to stay and do the bone marrow test. I had 48 hours to wait for the results. Those were a long two days and I wasn’t surprised when the results came back confirming the diagnosis. We had a three-week trip scheduled for Saturday, but the doctor said, “Mr. Larson, you need to meet with the oncologist this weekend; you can’t go anywhere right now.” So I spent my birthday doing more blood tests, meeting with a fine specialist in blood and bone marrow cancers, and scheduling x-rays, and another, more specific bone marrow biopsy. The oncologist confirmed the basic diagnosis and is working on finding out where I stand on the scale at this point. Over the weekend I got two units of “packed red cells” that have given me a boost in energy.
I have had all the initial blood tests, x-rays and the additional bone marrow biopsy. We will be meeting with the oncologist on Monday to go over everything and see where we stand now. We have decided to have treatment where we live—in India. Our work, our life and our students are here. I hope to be continuing my teaching and leading of the school throughout my treatment with few breaks. Patty will continue her full load teaching and mentoring. As soon as we know more we will let you know. Please pray with us that the Lord will give me the strength to carry on for many years.