What I learned: 6 questions for multiple myeloma patient Bob Dickey
December 1, 2015 | by Valerie Howard
Five City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome 2016 atop City of Hope's Tournament of Roses Parade float on Jan. 1. The float’s theme, "The Miracle of Science with Soul," adds a deeper dimension to the parade theme of "Find your Adventure."
Bob Dickey’s first sign of trouble came in September 2010, when the divorced father of three snapped several vertebrae at the gym. He soon found out that the incident was the result of his bones being weakened by advanced multiple myeloma.
After a month of unsuccessful chemotherapy, Bob was referred to City of Hope for treatment, where he received a stem cell transplant in 2011. Since his journey through cancer began, Bob has stayed physically active, finding ways to raise money for multiple myeloma in the process. To mark the first anniversary of his transplant, Bob took on California’s Mount Whitney, and this January, he will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
“I’m not really a climber,” he said, “but I saw it as a way to raise money for multiple myeloma and show people that although there is no cure, this is a disease we can manage.”
Here, he answers questions about his diagnosis and treatment at City of Hope.
What was your most pivotal emotional moment during treatment?
Honestly, it was my first day at City of Hope. I was pretty emotional because I knew I had found the place that could save me. City of Hope and Dr. (Amrita) Krishnan are the reason life is so good today.
What is one piece of practical advice you would give other patients?
For stem cell transplant patients, it is imperative that you rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash. Your mouth is a host of germs and keeping the germs down will keep the mouth and throat sores away.
Which person at City of Hope has had the biggest impact?
Dr. Krishnan. She is the smartest person I've ever met. I’m alive largely because of her, and her staff at City of Hope.
What family member or loved one have you relied on most?
My mother. I was basically incapacitated for one year. Between the pain killers for my back and my not being very mobile, she took over the key daily things, from keeping my finances in order to making sure I had all my medical records up-to-date, reminding me of all my appointments and keeping me organized. I had a huge binder with a copy of every medical test result, prescription, even copies of my films from MRIs and bone scans.
What could a family member or loved one do to help a patient that they might not think of?
Creating and keeping a binder of medical records would be a big help. But also making sure that the patient is making decisions that are correct. All the drugs can really mess with your decision making ability. Your emotions will swing more and you will be a bit hazy at best. Help the patient understand that they need to consider their decisions carefully, and that they themselves could be impaired in this area.
How do you continue to "find your adventure" after your journey with cancer?
I always keep my eyes and ears open for things to train for. After Kilimanjaro, I do have an idea of my next "big thing,” but I need to put this climb to bed first, before I let myself look too far ahead.
If you are looking for a second opinion about your myeloma diagnosis or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.