…the plasma cells inside the bone marrow, however, there are so many plasma cells in myeloma the it clearly is considered a bone marrow cancer while AL amyloidosis is not. Approximately 15% of those diagnosed with multiple myeloma will also acquire AL amyloidosis since AL is a related disease and because of this, the treatments for AL amyloidosis are similar to those for myeloma. Symptoms for both conditions vary according to each patient and depends on each organ the may be affected.
The process of chemotherapy, surgeries and medications used to treat both conditions can be physically and psychologically devastating for some patients. It’s important to stay in communication with your doctor, seek a support system and possibly change your eating habits to include a well-balanced and nutritious diet that’s low in sodium when the kidneys or heart are involved.
Living with Multiple Myeloma
After undergoing treatment, Foster says he sees his doctor every four months and gets lab work done every two months. Additionally, he continues to workout five days a week and has also decreased his sodium intake. “My lab work results show my heart is getting better…as long as I watch what I eat and keep my sodium intake down, I feel fine,” he says. “I feel like my normal self, I look like my normal self.”
Although Foster’s health has improved after treatment and he’s able to still do his favorite physical activities weekly, he says if he’d been persistent with seeking professional help earlier, he may not have the heart damage he now has.
“I tell people now, the minute you get to the point where you’re not able to do what you’ve been able to do for the last however many years..go to a doctor…you don’t have to be an athlete to know [the changes that occur to] your own body.”
Having been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and AL amyloidosis after he was done competing, his experience as an athlete helped him physically and mentally cope with both conditions. “A good athlete is one who is always both physically and mentally prepared,” he says. “Prayer and being consistent with the workouts, starting off slow and watching what I eat [helps].”
If you believe you may have symptoms of AL amyloidosis or multiple myeloma, contact your doctor or specialist as soon as possible. It’s vital to ask questions to make sure you get an accurate and timely diagnosis to help start treatment.
Foster continues to share his experience in hopes of being able to support others and has become a source of inspiration to those around him who’ve witnessed how he’s handled this particular journey of his.
“Don’t give up; be willing to do whatever you think you need to do in order to make yourself better,” says Foster. You have to believe and you have to trust in yourself, your doctor, your medical team and God.”
“It’s a long road, it’s a tough road but if nothing else, keep your spirits up.”