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Sticking with the Positive through Multiple Myeloma

 Doug Stewart on Mountain Bike In the Mountains

The tires of Doug Stewart’s mountain bike connected with the dirt on the trail, his son riding just behind him. Approaching a switchback, Doug slowed, trying to be careful. But he skidded and fell into some rocks. Though Doug had some neck pain, he and his son kept riding down the mountain and loaded the bikes into the car. The pain got worse as days passed, until he woke one morning and could not go to work.

Doug went to the hospital for an MRI. "They originally thought I just cracked a disk, so when they seemed concerned, I knew something was up," he said. "The doctor pulled up the MRI pictures, and you could see tumors wrapped around my spine at my neck."

Diagnosed with multiple myeloma, Doug began treatment that included chemotherapy and radiation. After four weeks, he chose to move his care to Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), where he had his first appointment with Douglas Sborov, MD, MS, director of the multiple myeloma program.

"We spent eight hours at HCI for my first appointment, setting up all the details for my treatment plan," Doug says. "When we were on our way home, Dr. Sborov called and told me he had just received some of the original images of my neck. He told me I needed to get home as safely and quickly as I could because my neck was broken. If I was in a car accident, I could have been paralyzed."

Doug wore a neck brace and, because it was the only place he found comfortable, slept in a plastic Adirondack chair for four and a half months, waiting for his neck to heal. During that time, Doug continued chemo treatments.

Chemo lasted two more years. Doug is now on a maintenance drug and has been cancer free since 2018.

To give back, Doug became a mentor to others who have multiple myeloma. "Someone who has been through it can encourage you along the way. I have a couple people I have been working with for quite some time and one person I have just barely started talking to. It helps having someone to talk to and help you through the highs and lows of multiple myeloma."

Still very active, Doug bikes and skis regularly and has even started a new business. "I knew I was going to be fine," he says. "That has been my attitude the whole time. The one thing that I will stick to is staying positive and exercising every day."

Cancer touches all of us.