My family and friends are all that really matter
While myeloma is a lesser known blood cancer it is still a serious disease that affects 1500 Australians every year.
Here Jamie Hewett shares how myeloma cost him his job and his home, but has left him with something much more valuable – a renewed appreciation for life and love.
The 36-year-old described himself as a fairly typical Aussie who prided himself on looking after his family when he was struck down with debilitating back pain in 2011.
After extensive tests, Jamie was finally diagnosed with myeloma, a blood cancer that destroys the bones causing a great deal of pain.
“My life was great. I was a crane driver, married to my lovely wife Rebecca, with three young children – 11-year-old Carrie, Jack, 8, and five-year-old Sam,” Jamie said.
But in a six-week period Jamie’s back pain became so excruciating he could not get out of bed.
After a number of x-rays and scans, a bone marrow biopsy revealed Jamie had stage three myeloma and that untreated he would probably only live another month.
“I don’t think the diagnosis really sunk in because I was still in excruciating pain. Just the movement of the hospital bed rolling from carpet to vinyl was agonising,” he said.
The day after his diagnosis chemotherapy began, which was also combined with radiotherapy. Gradually the pain subsided.
Stem cell transplant
In March 2012 Jamie had a stem cell transplant that unfortunately only held the myeloma at bay for 10 months. Jamie has now been scheduled for another stem cell transplant this October which he hopes will be more successful.
A range of side effects still affect Jamie on a daily basis, including fatigue, restricted movement, lack of concentration and some continued pain, although he no longer needs pain medication.
While Jamie said his work place was very supportive, and assured him his job would be waiting for him when he returned, he realised in time that he would not be able to go back to crane driving.
Due to his inability to work, the Hewetts were forced to make the heartbreaking decision to sell the family home that they had built at Fernvale and move to a rented home in Ipswich.
“It was very difficult to lose our home but being diagnosed with a disease like myeloma makes you realise that it’s the people that you love who are truly valuable and it is great to be alive.”
Myeloma Support Group
Jamie attends the Myeloma Support Group run by the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland which he describes as a “fantastic way to meet with others who are going through a similar experience; we share information and tips and just enjoy each other’s company”.
“We’re very fortunate to have the support that we do from our family, friends and the Leukaemia Foundation. One thing is certain, I could not have got through this without the love and support of my wife Rebecca and our three beautiful children.”