Mar 2023

Alyssa's story

Toronto, ON
Multiple myeloma

I’m a stay-at-home mom to my seven-year-old, Elliot. He’s an outgoing, high-energy kid. He loves playing soccer with his friends at recess. He’s also very sensitive and caring. Kids pick up vibes – they can sense what’s happening around them.

I’m trying to spend as much time with Elliot as I can. And to be there for him. It’s so important to me that we bond and create memories – whether it’s playing, practising his reading, or doing activities he enjoys. With my diagnosis, I’m always worried that there will be a day I won’t be there and I want him to remember me.

I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer, in 2010. It’s not considered curable. There’s treatment, but you’re told to expect periods of relapse and remission for the rest of your life. I was 32 when I was diagnosed and I’d been having unexplained symptoms for years. Doctors attributed my frequent infections, fatigue, anemia, and pain to IBS, migraines, low iron, or stress. I was brushed off by specialist after specialist. Multiple myeloma isn’t difficult to diagnose, but it’s a rare disease and I didn’t fit the typical patient profile, being so young.

“With my diagnosis, I’m always worried that there will be a day I won’t be there and I want him to remember me.”

A few years into my search for answers, after my third ER visit in one month, the doctors looked a little deeper. They finally connected the dots. I was admitted as an inpatient, had an emergency bone marrow biopsy, and started treatment that day. After my first stem cell transplant, it took over a year before I regained the energy to restart my life as a 32-year-old. I discovered yoga and strength training, which have helped me not only physically but also mentally, and they’ve been a key part of my recovery.

I’ve only relapsed once in the past 13 years, and I was luckily able to have my son via IVF before my relapse. My husband and I are so grateful for Elliot. He completes our family. And I’m so grateful my oncologist recommended I preserve my fertility up front. But my cancer could be back any month. It’s always in the back of my mind. I’m in remission, but I’m not cured. And so I can never just ‘be.’ Creating legacy and memories will always be something I’m working at.”