Mr. Peter's story

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I was always very active. When I was young, I did sports and everything one could do in the outdoors; when I was 15, music took over everything and I started to play the drums. I played in a brass band, a dance band, a rock band, I didn’t care as long as I could play, sometimes 7 days a week. Then I got a job as a building site manager, which I also liked because I could see the fruits of my labor. So I had no time to be sick. When I had the flu, I’d sweat it out on Sunday and go back to work on Monday. When it was really bad, I would go to a doctor who was an acquaintance, he’d prescribe antibiotics and after a week he would do a sediment test and say that according to my old results, it’s always been higher, so everything is fine. That was probably one of the reasons for the problems to come.

This story began very simply, in September 2004. I was walking, made a misstep, fell and couldn’t move. I felt a horrible pain in my pelvis. At first, I thought it was a prolapsed spinal disc, with which I’d be having problems for years, but this time it was more serious. After they took me to the hospital, the orthopedic clinic in Rychnov nad Kněžnou (Czechia) found that I had a complicated fracture of the ischius and the hip. Because of how it happened, they took samples and sent them to a histology test, which had a joyless result. The patient was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I will never forget the moment when the head doctor came to me in my room at the hospital. He was a friend, he brought some brandy and said: “It’s not good.” At first, you don’t understand the nonsense your friend is saying, but you become sober very quick even after the brandy. Why ME, I’m only 46, how long will it take – my father died of pancreatic cancer at 52 and the year he was dying was cruel to his loved ones as well as him. I had a lot of those thoughts and some were quite crazy.

The biggest shift came after I was transferred to the Faculty hospital in Hradec Králové (Czechia), where the doctors explained to me what had happened and were very frank with me from the start. I found out I was lucky, because if it had happened two years earlier they would not have known what to do, but the science had progressed and I had a chance. After the initial shock, you start to look in the rear view mirror and do your balances. At first, what did I miss or do wrong. But then I went in another direction and realized that I hadn’t wasted my life, that I accomplished things, started a company, had fun and lived a lot. I have a great wife, children, family, a lot of friends. That was when I realized I had to fight and believe. Believe in myself and mainly in others, who were taking care of me and cheering me on. That was the starting moment when you realize you don’t want to leave the beautiful world.

My treatment had to be divided into two stages. In the first, the multiple myeloma needed to be stabilized. If that was successful, at least a year later I could do the second stage – the reconstruction of my pelvis and hip. That meant that I would be bed ridden for at least a year, with my leg up on a hanger and then hanging freely from the sinew, so I would not be able to move at all. I was and still am very lucky with the experts who treated me. My first round of chemotherapy happened in October 2004, with no complications and my reward was Christmas pass. I was in an adjustable hospital bed but I was happy and at home. Especially since 30 friends came to play carols on Christmas Eve. Afterwards, I underwent the separation and autologous transplant of hemopoietic cells. And again, it worked the first time around. At that point, I was psychologically doing so well that I even bought an automatic car and started to enjoy life and be self-sufficient again. I took the crutches in my stride, I was happy the worst part was over.

I underwent the second stage of my treatment 14 months later, at the Faculty hospital Na Bulovce in Prague. The surgery was another unreal experience, as I was under lumbar anesthesia and so I could talk to the surgeon and listen to nice music for almost four hours. And the result? Again, a success. What followed then was an attempt to find a spa treatment for me. All went well, including the date of admission, until they found out I was treated for multiple myeloma. Everyone said they weren’t quipped for such patients. Finally, the spa in Třeboň took on the “risk” and their approach, rehabilitation and end results were excellent. My only regret is that had I made it to them 6 months earlier, it would have been even better. Then I underwent maintenance therapy and since 2012, I have been in remission. I am leading as “normal” a life as possible. I went back to my company and my summer cottage, to pick mushrooms and to my beloved music, and even skiing. I am enjoying my family, my grandchildren, and am living “full throttle”.

All of a sudden, my story is looking like it has a fairy tale ending, but we should go back to the beginning. Myeloma, and any other malicious “incurable” disease, will destroy your life whether you want it to or not. You suddenly realize that your life is being controlled by someone else, and you start valuing other things, your worldview changes, and you realize that time is a very relative concept.
You will find out how many people around you are willing to fight the unequal fight with you. Above all, your wife, children, family, friends, coworkers… So many hours, kilometers and mental energy they invested in you. Sometimes it looked like a carnival around my bed. Visitors after visitors. Then an amazing team of doctors, nurses and all of the staff at the clinic. That was the doping I needed. First and foremost I confirmed to myself that we have one of the best health care systems in the world, as well as doctors who are the best in their fields and the things they can do may seem almost superhuman to the layman.

On the other side of the field is you. I saw people who gave up at the beginning, and those who just didn’t make it. How someone wanted to give up but didn’t after a talking to, and so they are still here. I also saw a walked the other road, the one where I won’t give up and will make it. But for that, you also need luck, as I said earlier. I realized that you have to care for your health and your condition, and if there is a problem, it’s good to take interest in it and not be afraid to ask. And if you’re convinced you’re talking to an expert, then trust them and believe. I am trying not to dwell on the limitations, but I can see that I’m no longer a long distance runner. And therefore, my advice is simple: as long as you can, do everything that you like and that brings you and your loved ones joy, and you won’t have time for our “friend”, the multiple myeloma. Finally, I would like to thank all those who played a role, no matter how small, in this story. Without them, there wouldn’t be one.

PHCZ/HEM/0717/0001