Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Green-Eyed Monster and the Myeloma Monster

I went green last summer.

Not green as in driving a Prius or using those twisted light bulbs. I went green with envy.

As I was trying to pump out the minimum 2 million stem cells for my stem cell transplant, I looked on enviously as other patients in the transfusion center came and went in two or three days. I watched wistfully as their nurse coordinators scheduled their stem cell transplants.

One of the patients who came and went in two days was Richie, a rail-thin musician with multiple myeloma (MM). He and his wife, Michelle, a full-figured self-proclaimed computer geek, seemed like an unlikely match, but it didn't take long to see that they were devoted to one another. After they smooched like newlyweds, Michelle announced, "We just had our 20-year wedding anniversary, and I want to make sure Richie's around for another 20."

I had no doubt that Richie would be around for another 20 years. I could even picture Richie and Michelle clinking glasses on their 50-year wedding anniversary. After all, they were at the City of Hope in Dr. Forman's capable hands. Best of all, Richie was pumping out those stem cells like his life depended on them. In two days, he produced 4 million stem cells, twice the minimum and about 20 times my measly two-day harvest. He was well on his way to a successful stem cell transplant and certain remission.

Richie checked in to Hotel Hope on September 7 for his stem cell transplant and immediately went into remission. But six months later, the MM monster returned, stronger and meaner than ever. On Friday, March 21, Richie went to the City of Hope for what would be his final chemo treatment. Later that same day, Michelle found him dead in their home.

I'm so sorry that I was jealous of Richie's bountiful stem cell production. I'm even more sad and sorry that Michelle won't get to live those "20 more years" with her beloved husband.

9 comments:

Nancy said...

Susan, I'm sorry for your loss and for Michelle's loss... Too many stories like that and it doesn't get any easier.

Paula L. Johnson said...

Don't know Michelle. Didn't know Richie. So why did I just burst into tears?

Guess I remain worried about our skinny little Smookie.

Karen said...

So sorry to hear about Richie and Michelle. :-(

Anonymous said...

Susan, was so sorry to hear about this...

Lisa C.

Barbara Roth said...

This is heartbreaking news. I am so sorry. Sometime reality is unbearable,

Michelle Klein-Hass said...

Thanks for writing about us. If anyone is in the LA area, there will be a memorial concert for Richie at the Echoplex in Echo Park on Sunday, April 27th, from 4 to 11pm. A whole bunch of Richie's musician friends will be getting together.

There will be individual sets, and then a jam at the end of the night which will get as many of Richie's musician friends together to honor him with the humongous jam he wanted as a way of honoring him. It'll kind of be like the LA underground equivalent of a New Orleans Jazz Funeral.

In September there will hopefully be an even bigger event. Both of these events will be benefits for blood cancer related charities.

Susan Carrier said...

Michelle, If you can give me a few more details (admission price, address), I'll be sure to create a special post a week before the concert.

Ann said...

Susan, I'm so sorry.

SAMO Calling said...

Oh Susan, I was so unprepared for that sentence. :(
Such sad news went right to the pit of my stomach.