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Patient stories / 26 Jul, 2019

Keeping the motor running – a life with multiple myeloma and MDS

Icon Writers

How Icon Adelaide patient Paul found his new normal

Mount Gambier born brick layer and stone mason, Paul Lewis is no stranger to hospital visits and weekly appointments. Diagnosed with multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in 2014, Paul has become accustomed to a new weekly routine and is living as normal a life as he can.

After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma and MDS, Paul received nine months of chemotherapy, followed by a final scan that found his bone marrow was no longer producing blood. In order to maintain healthy levels of blood, Paul requires weekly blood transfusions at the Icon Cancer Centre in Adelaide. This means he will often need to visit the centre twice a week, with one appointment for dressings and regular blood tests, and the other for a two or four hour blood transfusion. For the past five years Paul has become somewhat part of the furniture at Icon.

“Of course you aren’t happy about something like this but you have to get on with life and live,” Paul said.

“The weekly blood transfusions have just become part of my routine. I’ve been going there for five years now and I’ve got to know the team and they me. They like to tell you about their trips and how they are going, I get to see familiar faces every week and still lead a fairly normal life.”

Alongside getting to know the staff and welcoming changes at the Icon centre each year, Paul and his wife, Maureen have also been able to get to know fellow patients.

“One fellow comes in every week and we get along well with him and his wife. When you are there, you have something in common with everyone else. It’s easy to make conversation and it’s nice to know you aren’t alone.”

Having been happily married for over 52 years, Maureen has a short hand with her husband caring for him in a way that works for them both.

“He’s quite an independent gentlemen, which is really wonderful in a lot of aspects because he’s determined to keep doing everything,” said Maureen.

“But sometimes he’ll outstretch himself so it’s helpful knowing his character. I’m always there checking for infections and making sure he gets to all his appointments and has all his treatments.”

The couple moved to Adelaide when Maureen was offered a job and while Paul was just about to retire. The move has been a lifesaver, with the Icon centre only a 15 minute drive from home and hospital and care services in close proximity. Adelaide also means home for the Lewis’, with lots of family members close by and a close network of friends.

Paul continues a full life – playing bowls twice a week, going on regular walks, fishing, and spending time with his wife and two grandkids, and occasionally having the time to take day trips around the beautiful local region. Paul and Maureen think of the Icon Adelaide staff as friends, feeling that their visits aren’t a chore, but a joy.

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