In 2012, Greg Foster woke up expecting to do his usual morning workout routine that consisted of running three to six miles on a treadmill, which he normally did three days a week. On this day in particular, however, he wasn’t able to go past a minute and a half without noticing that he was extremely tired, which is unusual for a person with his background. Foster, an Olympic silver medalist inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame, worked out five days a week, running anywhere from nine to 18 miles on the treadmill weekly and also rowed on a row machine two days out of the week as well.
“I didn’t think nothing [sic] of it…I thought I was getting old so I changed around my cardio, still doing [sic] weights, but wasn’t doing as much cardio,” says Foster.
As a few years went by, however, Foster noticed himself getting weaker. While volunteering at local schools, he wasn’t able to stand for a long period of time, as he once was able to do, without his ankles swelling. Although he continuously lifted weights, the amount of weight in which he was once able to lift decreased. After not being able to put on his shoes due to being severely swollen on his lower legs and ankles, he decided to go to a doctor.
“They could never find anything wrong. I went to cardiologist after cardiologist. I had a heart MRI and chest x-rays, but they kept talking it up to me being an athlete and said I had Athlete’s Heart,” Foster said.
It wasn’t until 2016 when Foster was no longer able to walk up a single stair in his house when he decided to go back to one of his doctors who went over his results one more time. They did three different biopsies before the doctor was able to diagnose Foster with the blood cancer multiple myeloma and AL amyloidosis. Having never heard of these conditions before, Foster began to research and came across an older article that mentioned AL amyloidosis was a rather rare disease that, unfortunately, many doctors weren’t too familiar with so there wasn’t a cure for it yet.
“The very first thing I read was AL amyloidosis was a death penalty.” However, after reaching out and speaking to the president of the AL Amyloidosis Foundation, she shared her own story with Foster and was able to help put his mind at ease and place him in touch with some doctors more familiar with AL amyloidosis. After being referred to an AL amyloidosis specialist, Foster began a bone marrow transplant and completed one round of chemotherapy in June 2016.
Both multiple myeloma and AL amyloidosis affect…