Fighting Multiple Myeloma

$1,835 of $15k goal

Raised by 31 people in 43 months
Tom Ackermann   WHEELING, WV

I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in February of 2012. An aggressive form. I've been on chemo ever since, hoping to reduce it enough to be able to get the stem cell treatment that would probably help the most.

After all this time we just found out in February of 2013 that the percentage of myeloma cells in my marrow has only dropped from in the 70s to into the 50s - at that rate it will be YEARS before I could get enough improvement.

And I won't be able to continue as is because a therapeutic dose of cytoxan is trying to kill me, driving my hemoglobin and white blood cells dangerously low.

I am currently on revlimid and dexamethasone (a steroid) and if the revlimid fails, there are other, newer drugs to try, but I don't know if my insurance (that I am lucky to still have) will pay for any of that. It has already cost about $500,000.00, and I can only imagine that they will not be happy to continue much longer.

I only have so much sick leave available, so we have been using vacation time to get treatments and cover hospital stays. 

I have two daughters at home - one is graduating high school this year, and I'd love to see her graduate college, get married, maybe see a grandchild someday...

My other daughter is only 10 years old, and writes all the time that "I only want my Daddy to get better." I have NO IDEA what parts of her life I'm going to get to see. I'd love to see them all.

And my wife - it's not fair to her having to endure all this, helping me, taking care of me, sometimes having to almost carry me up and down steps. We are supposed to be having some fun in our later years now, and all I can offer her is worry and fear


It would be nice to be able to pay our bills, or maybe just have some cash on hand in case of emergencies.



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Update 16
25 months ago
Strange, scary days:

When they ran blood work before the kyphoplasty and the Doc at OSU saw it he was very happy - I was back in remission! Didn't even finish the first round of pomalyst (had to stop before the surgery)!

Doc wanted me to continue for a while, really slap the cancer around real good so the idea was a few more rounds then maintenance dose.

Then one Friday after work I went through drivethru at Taco Bell to pick up our dinner - and I was unable to say the name of the drinks I was supposed to order. I could read it's name on my list and on the board. I knew what it said and what I wanted. But when I tried to say it it was like a blank sheet of paper. I ended up ordering the correct drinks when I went inside - not sure but I THINK I pointed at a picture. But then got the wrong drinks at the drink fountain. I think THAT was just me being me.

I was fine otherwise, told family and we were all "that's weird" but like I said I was fine then.

Saturday at work, did my normal morning things, went out and collected a couple water samples - everything was fine. Until I tried to work the TOC machine. I knew what to do - or rather I FELT like I should - but had no idea. I just stared at it. A LONG time. I did manage to get it into another step, but it was the wrong step AND set wrong. I've worked this thing for years, could show anyone how to run it in minutes.

Then I had to issue a boil water order. I opened the document on my computer, started to change the date, typed a "J" and that was ALL I managed to do. AND it was the wrong document.

Another machine - the GC - I did set it up correctly. Mostly correctly, because the results were useless. I didn't even realize it. Did the second run - exact same useless results.

I remember eating a left over taco for lunch - then, next thing I knew clearly was it was only about an hour to end of shift and I had done nothing. During the afternoon I did start to run my samples, so I tried to finish them. I wrote the date (correctly?) one place on the form but couldn't do it on the other place. Same date.

At some point I remembered my procedures book, so I got it out and read what to do. I could read them. I understood them. But they didn't relate to anything I needed to do. (yes they did - and I am the one who wrote them!)

I realized I needed help and tried to call my wife. WHY I didn't ask the operator who was in the NEXT ROOM I have no idea.

I started to panic and called my wife. Took me forever, eventually managed to work cell phone. I called my boss - the automated "If you'd like to make a call" recording - I swear it started to sound angry with me since I messed up so much.

During this time I took 9 pictures of my knees - no idea why.

Eventually at home I couldn't say "salt & pepper". When I tried to work TV remote I got mad because comcast had changed the way everything worked and it confused me. (They hadn't changed anything). Trying to watch Star Trek - I ordered HBO and some concert.

So its off to the ER where I had trouble following commands like touch my nose and to clap a certain way. Simple stuff. Asked where I was - again I FELT like I knew, but couldn't figure it out. I think I said "here" or something. I had trouble with nouns - used pronouns like "that" or "those" a lot. Asked the month - only one I remembered was March.

Doc points at his ring asks "what is this?" I said "ring". "No - what is this?" I thought he wanted "wedding ring" so again said "ring". Except I was really saying "pen". I had no idea.

I was up to 4AM trying to turn off the TV in the room. I could see the "TV On/Off" button, knew what it said and meant - but could NOT think to push it. I was SO happy when I eventually tried it.

Sunday I was still confused, improved during the day then went back down later. Had lots of tests, CAT scan, MRI of my head, MRA, checked my carotids, looked at my heart, loads of blood samples. Everything was fine! Heparin to thin my blood seemed to do the trick.

So it seems it was either 'dex withdrawal' or a very rare reaction to the pomalyst. I hope I can still take it safely since it was working so well. Going to send bloodwork to OSU soon to see what is going on right now.

And NONE of that was the scariest part to ME. That was when I found out from co-worker than on Friday (day before the big confusion) I was making silly math mistakes, entering data on wrong line on computer when any child could see where it goes. And I had no idea at all.

This just adds even more doubled copays with our new insurance plan. Copays DOUBLED. And a higher deductible.

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Update 15
26 months ago
I've just gotten out of the hospital, and it appears that the myeloma has caused a compression fracture of the L10. One that hurts an AWFUL lot. I've got an expensive back brace (which actually goes in the front) and it helps a good bit, keeps me from moving too much in the wrong ways.

We are getting kyphoplasty scheduled, and that will just get more expensive in July when the new, twice-as-expensive insurance kicks in. And there have been many prescriptions (with more to come). More doctors visits, then we have to go back out to OSU....

Me in my backbrace 6-19-2014
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Update 14
27 months ago
My remission is over. Over the last 2 months my creatinine has climbed to 2.58, my free kappa light chains climbed from 49 to 261 and my IgA went from 297 to 1096. Blood counts are dropping as well, but not bad yet.

My back has been aching for over two weeks. They have given me Endocet. Takes care of the pain but makes me sweaty, dizzy and nauseated. Fun times.

I get to go back to OSU next week for bone marrow biopsy (yay), then I will probably be put on Pomalyst and Dex. More fun.

My wife is all upset again, worrying about everything. I tell her it will all be OK, that I am confident, but she still worries about me so much. I love her so much.
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Update 13
37 months ago
I am just over 100 days post-transplant, and so far I seem to be doing OK, except for a lot of trouble sleeping - and that messes with my head a lot. At least nothing seems to hurt anymore and I can do things without stopping to try and breath. I do still get tired easily though.

My wife's friend Lisa is holding a steak fry to benefit us - thanks Lisa! :) You are making my creditors smile.

Our area is holding a neighborhood yard sale this weekend, so maybe this will be a good chance to sell my old Star Trek stuff and a bunch of our DVDs.

On the plus side, I got in a good bit of swimming this year - the Drs wanted me to exercise - low impact, so swimming and walking sounded good. Helped teach my daughter how to swim - or as I call it, 'not drowning lessons'. She's doing real good now.
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 198 total shares
Leslie Haglock
41 months ago

I will pray for you and your family ....If I can see my way clear of a few bills ..I will send something ...wont be much but maybe it will help ..God Bless and Good Luck

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$1,835 of $15k goal

Raised by 31 people in 43 months
Created February 12, 2013
JW
$100
J. Alec West
25 months ago

Damn good news, Tom. Of course, remission is like a "truce" - a good time to re-group. On that score, I'm sending another donation. Be well.

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JW
$100
J. Alec West
27 months ago

From one cancer survivor to another, keep up the good fight, Tom. Any news on the possible stem-cell treatment?

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$25
Anonymous
34 months ago
$100
Anonymous
35 months ago
$25
John Nott
39 months ago
DL
$20
Denise L
41 months ago
EK
$100
Ed & Monique Kenyon
41 months ago

Tom you are in our thoughts and prayers. You are not alone my friend.

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P
$50
Pauletta
41 months ago
$50
Archie Doll
42 months ago
KK
$50
Kym Kobasko-Gable
42 months ago
Leslie Haglock
41 months ago

I will pray for you and your family ....If I can see my way clear of a few bills ..I will send something ...wont be much but maybe it will help ..God Bless and Good Luck

+ Read More
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