Myeloma: I had a wig made for my son’s wedding

Denyse at son's wedding

Denyse’s sore back was the first real hint that something wasn’t right.

“I had done a lot of gardening to get the family home ready for sale when I noticed my back was really sore,” the 51-year-old said.

When mum-of-three Denyse visited Dreamworld on the Gold Coast with her son a short time later, she hurt her back and immediately knew something serious had happened.

“I ended up with a compound fracture of my back. While an X-ray didn’t show anything sinister, an MRI three weeks later showed a lesion.”

Myeloma diagnosis

“That’s when I found out I had myeloma. I knew nothing about it – except that it was serious.” Denyse’s treatment began immediately and she was told she would need a stem cell transplant.

“I was on Velcade, cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone for four months before my stem cells were harvested last September,” she said.

“The treatment went smoothly and I feel fortunate I haven’t experienced any side effects from Velcade, as I know many people do.”

Denyse says she was relieved to still have her hair for her son’s wedding in August last year, despite having “a wig ready to go”.

Unfortunately a lesion was later found on the head of Denyse’s femur that saw her undergo surgery for a hip replacement.

“I had planned to participate in last year’s Leukaemia Foundation Light the Night event but was disappointed to miss out as I was in a wheelchair at that time,” she added.

Stem cell transplant

Denyse’s stem cell transplant went ahead in January this year and she returned home after only two weeks in hospital. “I’m dealing with the usual fatigue and nausea, but improving day by day and enjoying my painting when I can. I’m used to being busy so listening to my body and taking it easy can be challenging at times,” she said.

While her shock diagnosis of myeloma last May has meant many challenges, it has also brought about some unexpected positive changes, including a new love for oil painting. “I used to paint with pastels but felt like I needed some extra colour in my life so took up oil painting,” Denyse said. “I absolutely love it and find it relaxing and uplifting – very important when you are dealing with a disease like myeloma!”

Denyse and daughter in hospital

Support

Denyse says she has been very grateful for the support of the Leukaemia Foundation and the fact that she can call them whenever she needs to. “I recently went to the Leukaemia Foundation’s myeloma Coffee, Cake and Chat meeting and really enjoyed sitting around a table with others who were going through the same journey as me. We were able to share many ideas and stories.”

Denyse said her Christian faith and the support she has received from her family – husband Kevin and three children, Ashley, 26, Shaun, 23, and 14-year-old Ryan – has been invaluable. “We also have wonderful friends who helped us move house and provided us with meals after I was diagnosed,” she said.

“We’re so grateful for the kindness and generosity shown to us since myeloma turned our lives upside down.”

This year, National Myeloma Day is on Wednesday 18 May. Come along and hear the latest on research, treatments and a patient perspective. Phone 3055 8233 to find out more.

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