Although Ron Hood has been living with multiple myeloma, he draws strength from being a Myeloma Warrior. At the 2018 Brian D. Novis Research Grant Awards reception, a night filled with hope held annually during the American Society of Hematology meeting, Ron movingly described his experiences with the disease and the ways in which the IMF has supported him along the way. As Ron says, “When our health fails us, that’s a challenge, but it also provides us with one of those important opportunities to show that we can be Warriors together.”
Good evening. Thank you all so much for having me here to be part of this night of sharing our stories together.
I really think of all of us as a team, and I’m proud to be part of this team. I’m in the midst of my retirement as a Financial Advisor, work I’ve loved doing for more than 40 years of my life, but before that, I was a math and physics teacher, and also a coach. I coached high school basketball, track, and swimming for 10 years.
As a coach, my focus was always getting players to work as a team rather than as individuals. And tonight, as we think about what it means to be a Warrior, I think that same focus on teamwork applies.
We can all be Warriors, working together. And when we work together, the team as a whole will always be greater than the sum of individual talents.
Two-and-a-half years ago, when my myeloma was first diagnosed, I had no idea what laid ahead for me. And I certainly didn’t have a sense of what myeloma teamwork could be.
On April 13, 2016, I was set to play my first round of golf for the year. I stepped up to the first tee, made a mighty swing with my driver, and—I hit the ball or the ground—my arm broke.
My orthopedic doctor said “Multiple Myeloma.” My reaction was “Multiple what??” I had never heard of that term before.
Surgery followed, and included inserting an 11-inch rod between my elbow and shoulder. I also sought to get educated about myeloma. I am blessed to have three wonderful children, including my daughter, who is a Physician Assistant and immediately started getting her hands on everything that has to do with myeloma. She introduced me to the IMF, and ever since I so much look forward to reading everything the IMF publishes—particularly the ASH summaries each year.
Since my diagnosis, I have been through a series of treatments, and I am grateful for each of them. They have provided me what I’ve needed when I needed it. They’ve been team players.
In March 2017, I started Xgeva shots, a treatment that had just been approved when I started it, so I also give credit to the teamwork that make that approval happen. The Xgeva works great for me because I have no kidney side effects
In February 2018 I began a regimen of Darzalex-Revlimid-dexamethasone plus the Xgeva. I get the shot and the monthly infusions all at once. It’s as “easy” as these things go.
A question I often receive is, “With all of the medications, what kind of side effects do you have?” I’m so happy to report that I have virtually no side effects. My wife Sue—who I must mention has been the love of my life for 46 years—she is an excellent cook and dietician, and I have a good appetite. So I eat well, sleep well, and participate in most activities that I would be doing if I did not have myeloma.
In addition to our three grown children, Sue and I have four grandchildren, with everyone living in Omaha, Nebraska near us. Our grandchildren are involved in many activities, and we try to attend all of them. We also enjoy taking trips as a family. So I am thankful that my treatments are now once per month so that Sue and I are now able to plan activities around them.
One of those very important activities are the road trips Sue and I take from Omaha to Grand Island. It’s 150 miles each way, but we drive it each month, faithfully, in order to attend the Central Nebraska Myeloma Support Group meeting led by Dr. Jim Omel, himself a 21-year survivor.