Some cancers are not
curable, but these days they can often be well managed without diminishing the
quality of life for patients. Coming up,
Dr. Tanya Wahl, medical oncologist, will discuss treatment for multiple
myeloma, and you’ll also hear from her patient who now lives an active life
with myeloma. It’s all next on Patient
Hello and welcome to
Patient Power brought to you by Overlake
a network member of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Well, if you are diagnosed with cancer it is
a scary word and, believe me, I know. I
was diagnosed with leukemia, but fortunately now, ten years later, continue to
do well. But when it happens, it can
just be terrifying. It did happen to
really someone who lives near me on Mercer
Island, Washington. That’s Steve Henkel.
Steve, you’re 75
now. We’re going to tell the happy part
of your story, and we’re going to meet your Overlake doctor who has made a huge
difference for you, but let’s talk about when it started. Age 73, in the spring you were opening a
window. What happened?
Well, my left shoulder
popped, which led to my visit with my orthopedic surgeon who x-rayed it and
found a myeloma in my left clavicle.
Now, did you have any
idea what myeloma was?
I had no idea at
all. I thought it was some kind of skin
Right. Which is melanoma, of course.
But it can be
confused. But here you are, myeloma, but
you thought maybe initially you’d go to the orthopedic doctor, you’d have some
bone surgery or something and you’d be okay.
That wasn’t the case. So you get
referred to in this case a radiation oncologist, and they’re looking to see if
there are other places where this cancer was.
And they found some, right?
That’s right. They found a tumor on my thyroid cartilage.
So that led to
recommendation for having radiation to try to get at this multiple myeloma, and
you started that.
And at the front end of
this Dr. Wahl, I was referred to her, and then to the radiologist.
We’re going to meet
Dr. Tanya Wahl, a medical oncologist at Overlake who became the
quarterback for your care in just a second, but the first course was let’s do
radiation to try to reduce the size, to get at these lesions, and you began
that. Now, when you did had it really
hit you what you were going through, that you were a man diagnosed with a
serious cancer or, were you in the moment, if you will?
It didn’t really strike
me until about a week and a half into the radiation when I began to really feel
pretty miserable, and the criticalness of being in radiation, I understood the
impact of that and then it struck home, yes.
Right. Now, radiation was strong therapy for you,
and while it was reducing the size of the tumors you ended up being in the
hospital for a while. And how would you
describe your condition? How low had you
gotten, if you will?
Well, the radiation on
the thyroid cartilage really affected my ability to swallow and to take
nutrition, so I had to go into the hospital and receive intravenous feeding.
Right. You were a sick puppy you told me the other
day on the phone.
I think so, and a friend
of mine who is a retired physician visited me in the hospital and he was absolutely
certain I was terminal. So that kind of
belled the cat for me.
Right. Well, I want to remind our listeners, though,
as we do this program that it’s almost two years later, and we’re going to talk
about what Steve does now in a very high quality of life. So you mentioned Dr. Tanya Wahl. She was your medical oncologist and remains
that today. And you did get out of the
hospital and ultimately were able to have really state-of-the-art myeloma
medicines. Let’s meet Dr. Wahl and
learn a little bit more about that, and we’ll continue hearing about your
Dr. Tanya Wahl is
a medical oncologist at Overlake
and, Dr. Wahl, Steve is there with you at your office today and he’s doing
well. Multiple myeloma, is this one of
these cancers where we have made progress?