We got her to a physician, who performed an initial blood test and physical and suspected nothing was wrong. The blood tests came back totally normal. Still experiencing the intense back pain, Malinda continued to seek relief. One of the chiropractors highly suggested that she get an MRI scan, and soon ordered for it.
Five fractures were found in her spine; two were old and healing, three were new. There was no explanation for the sudden appearance of these fractures. No accident or fall had occurred that would’ve caused the breaks. We were left totally mystified by the news.
Finally, the family found a wonderfully renowned spine specialist in Plano. After his PA administered a blood test, the specialist was alarmed by the irregular results when Malinda came back for a follow up two weeks later on Tuesday, August 7th. In that time between appointments, she lost a significant amount of weight and the pain in her back continued to worsen.
At the appointment, the specialist entered the room standing confidently, and told the family straightforward that this situation was extremely urgent. He determined that there was some kind of underlying issue, which caused the decline in Malinda’s health in the first place. Both the family and the doctors initially suspected that she had osteoporosis.
The doctors would work diligently to pinpoint the mysterious issue hanging over our heads; however, we were told that Malinda needed to have surgery as soon as possible to provide relief and possibly find the cause. Cement would be injected to relieve the fractured vertebrae (kyphoplasty), and a bone biopsy would be collected during the procedure to help determine the problem. This procedure would take place either that upcoming Thursday or the following Monday, so they scheduled the pre-op appointment on Wednesday, August 8th to assure that she could go through the procedure with no issues.
They went in, ran the tests, arrived home, expecting to be prepared for the surgery, which we were able to schedule for the following morning. Not even 30 minutes later, they received a phone call. The PA told them to take Malinda to the emergency room immediately. Her blood results came back from the pre-op, showing that she was severely anemic, her calcium levels and white blood cell counts were extremely high, and she was going into renal failure. We spent the night after she was admitted, with sleep constantly being interrupted by nurses coming in to perform tests and draw blood throughout the night.
In the afternoon the following day, we received the news that she has all the signs of multiple myeloma. The diagnosis was confirmed to be Stage 3 multiple myeloma on Monday, August 13th. This is a cancer in the plasma cells, causing malignant plasma cells to rapidly multiply and cause damage to the bone marrow. In Malinda’s case, the cancer caused the collapse of her vertebrae, which seems to be when this all started. Every symptom lines up with what she has been experiencing since April. While it provided some relief to finally know the cause of these problems, it was not the answer we were hoping to hear.
I’m sure that every person who has met Malinda can agree that she is one of the most kind-hearted and sweet people they’ve come into contact with. She consistently proves herself to be selfless and thoughtful of others, no matter what the situation is. Her sense of humor never fails to make us smile, and even her smile and laugh itself lights up a room. She proves her strength and perseverance with every challenge that life throws her way. She has such a beautiful spirit, and lives to serve God in everything she does. Even after these events, her faith still stands strong. We all have great confidence that she will display the best of these traits and prove to us that she is even stronger than we thought before.
Our path to recovery has only just begun. She will be receiving two different forms of chemotherapy. In the future, a bone marrow transplant would be necessary as well. This is the road we are going down right now, but it’s always hard to anticipate unforeseen changes. The good news out of all of this is that multiple myeloma is highly manageable. However, we are anticipating high expenses from our extensive hospital stay and the treatment.
Our family and Malinda would greatly appreciate those who might give; if you can’t, just knowing that she has your support either way still makes a world of difference. We know our mom can fight and give this her all, and she knows she already has a team behind her that’s encouraging her every step of the way.
Thank you, everyone, for the prayers, thoughts, encouragement, and support for her and our family. We appreciate every single one of you who believe in her just like we do. We truly believe in Malinda-a wonderful grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, follower of Jesus; but most of all, the best mother to her three children, Holly, Brian, and Natalie. We will do anything and everything to help her fight this!
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Fundraising team: Malinda Johnson (3)
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