Back in 2014 Andy and I had bought a catamaran in Athens and were cruising in the Mediterranean prior to starting the long sail back to Australia. It was a trip we had planned and looked forward to for years and we were finally doing it. We got as far as Mallorca in the Ballearics when Andy started complaining of back pain. As we had such a big trip ahead of us we decided to see a doctor who finally diagnosed a fractured T12 vertebrae in his back. It turned out that this was caused by Myeloma and we had to abandon our trip and head backed to the UK for treatment.
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Unlike many cancers, it does not exist as a tumour. Instead the plasma cells, which are part of theimmune system, become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably. One of the earliest symptoms can be a fracture, often in the spine, as the myeloma infiltrates the bone.
Andy had to have 5 months of low dose chemotherapy to kill off all the cancer cells and, when his blood results reached normal levels, a stem cell transplant. He was very lucky, achieving complete remission of his disease. Many myeloma sufferers never achieve remission and it can often return quickly. We were told that the longer he remains in remission, the better the outcome.
Today is three years since his transplant and we are in the UK visiting family prior to our third year sailing in Greece since that awful time. Champagne may be on the agenda!