- Diagnosed with mulitple myeloma

Frances's story

Frances from Waitara turns 80 in December – it’s a birthday she wasn’t sure she would see. As is the case for many people, Frances’ cancer journey began with a seemingly unrelated incident, she explains: “I tripped and jarred my back and started to get back pain which didn’t get better. I went to the doctor and they gave me painkillers and said they thought it was a combination of the injury and my age.” 

Frances’ pain went on for six months and got to the point where she was practically bed ridden. Eventually her doctor did some blood tests which showed up some worrying results and in February 2019 she was referred for a bone marrow aspirate in Palmerston North Hospital. Test results showed that Frances had multiple myeloma: “I was quite calm when they told me, in fact I was a bit relieved because at least there was something diagnosed – I had been putting up with things for so long. The worst part was having to ring my daughters and tell them.” 

Frances began six months of chemotherapy, as she explains: “I didn’t lose my hair and I only had a bit of nausea and could sleep alright – by that stage my back pain was a bit better too which helped.”

After six months Frances was changed onto a regime of thalidomide and 6 dexamethasone and by early December 2019 her bloods were looking so good that her haematologist recommended she come off treatment: “I’ve been off the treatment ever since although I have blood tests every three months and regular infusions.” 

Frances was a regular attender of her local LBC support group before lockdown changed things, as she explains: “I find the meetings useful and enjoyable. For me it was really eye opening – how did I get to this age without knowing about these things!” 

Frances continues to have regular check-ups and blood tests but tries not to focus solely on her condition: “I know there’s no magic remedy so I don’t dwell on it. I wanted to share my story to give people a bit of hope – when you are diagnosed it’s not necessarily the end of life as you know it. There’s lots of help out there if you reach out.”