Undiagnosed myeloma nearly rendered a man paralyzed

The Jamie Hart nck brace

Jamie Hart did not anticipate being told he had an incurable blood cancer and that one wrong move could cause paralysis when he was sent for an X-ray on his sore neck.

One of the 24,000 people living with myeloma in the UK is Jamie from Newport.

He went to work and continued coaching football for months despite having a collapsed vertebra.

I'd been playing football and running around like a lunatic, heading the ball, said Jamie.

"My spinal cord could have ruptured at any time, and in the worst case, I might have become paralyzed. ".

Jamie, who was 49 at the time, began to experience fatigue and a pain in the back of his neck back in August 2016.

Jamie with mesh over his face in hospital
Jamie was unaware that he had been carrying a collapsed vertebra in his lower neck.

He remarked, "To really describe it, all I can say is that I thought my head was going to fall off.

"It seemed as though my neck was loose. ".

In August, he visited his general practitioner, who recommended an X-ray.

While he waited, he continued coaching a football team and working his physically demanding job at Bettws Leisure Centre.

He had his X-ray at the tail end of October.

After asking him to wait "a moment," the radiographer left the room. For 20 minutes, she was gone.

I thought she had forgotten about me, but then a doctor appeared and told me to stay put and not move because we had noticed some unusual images on my neck, Jamie recalled.

His lower neck had collapsed vertebrae, the doctor explained, necessitating the use of a spinal collar to prevent paralysis.

A cage had to be inserted into his neck as well.

Jamie with stitches in his neck
Jamie required surgery to stabilize his neck.

He was immediately taken to the ward and required to wear a neck collar while remaining motionless.

The next step was an operation to stabilize his neck.   .

He was informed following the procedure that the blood cancer, myeloma, was to blame for the damage to his neck.   .

He admitted, "I knew absolutely nothing about that.   .

The bone marrow is where myeloma, an untreatable blood cancer, develops.

According to the charity Myeloma UK, while it is incurable, the majority of cases can be treated.

Periods of remission are frequently achieved through treatment, but patients inevitably relapse, necessitating additional care.

After hearing the devastating news, Jamie said he thanked the doctor and has worked to maintain his optimism ever since.

List of Myeloma symptoms

I've been dealt a blow, but I'm powerless to stop it, he said.

Why would I worry about things I can't change if I only had 10 to 15 years, possibly less, to live?

"For however long that may be, I want to live my life to the fullest. ".

He thinks the news was harder on his family, which includes his wife of 20 years, their son, 18, their stepdaughter, 23, and their 3-year-old grandson.

Jamie underwent 25 rounds of radiotherapy after receiving the diagnosis, spent a month in the hospital, and was forced to retire.

In June 2019, he underwent a stem cell transplant, and he later entered remission.

Jamie in hospital in Italy
Since breaking his arm in 2022, Jamie has been undergoing chemotherapy.

However, he broke his arm in June 2022 while on vacation in Sardinia while riding a sightseeing bus.

He said, "I felt my arm click and snap as I stood up and turned to change seats to the other side.".

Three places on it were broken. Tests revealed that his cancer had returned and that the break was caused by a myeloma-related weakness.

Ever since, he has been receiving chemotherapy again.

Jamie claims that his diagnosis has given him a fresh outlook on life.

Jamie claimed that his outlook on life had completely changed as a result of having myeloma.

He said, "We look forward to doing things as a family.

Friendships are more important to me. and I work to assist more people. I've gotten help, and now I want to return the favor. " .

He now wants to spread knowledge about the disease and aid Myeloma UK in finding the 851 people with myeloma who the organization estimates are still living without a diagnosis as a result of a decline in diagnoses during the Covid pandemic.

"These people need to be located, and they need to see a doctor," Jamie said.   .

The charity's chief executive, Sophie Castell, stated that the most crucial thing people can do is rule themselves out by examining their symptoms and, if anything doesn't seem right, visiting their GP.

"Please keep pushing or get a second opinion because it might take your doctor more than one appointment to put the puzzle pieces together. ".

According to statistics provided by the charity, one in four cancer patients in the UK experience diagnosis delays of more than 10 months.

Despite his diagnosis, Jamie claims he feels fortunate.

Jamie also hopes that more GPs and members of the general public will be aware of myeloma.

He said, "If I ask 10 people [if] they know what myeloma is, I'll have 10 people [say] they don't know.".

Jamie feels appreciative when he thinks back on the last few years despite his diagnosis.

Myeloma is treatable, according to him.

"I must acknowledge my luck in retrospect; my spinal cord could have died at any moment.

. "

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