In 1996 Anne had a routine blood test to see if she could continue with her hormone replacement therapy.
The blood sample was sent to the hospital for analysis. Shortly after, she received a letter from the hospital saying that there had been an “incidental” finding of higher than usual protein in her blood.
Further tests found that she had multiple myeloma which is a cancer of the blood. Myeloma is a terminal cancer and has no known cure. Victims are unlikely to live longer than four years after first diagnosis.
The protein is generated in the bone marrow. On release into the blood, it replaces the red corpuscles that carry oxygen around the body. Oxygen deprivation results. The protein eventually collects in the kidneys. If Myeloma is not caught early enough, death usually results from kidney failure. The immune system is also attacked. Eventually, the cancer starts to eat holes in the bones making them painful and liable to break. The progress of Myeloma can be delayed by chemotherapy but inevitably such therapy becomes ineffective. Anne had several kinds of chemotherapy including injected interferon and thalidomide. She also had many blood transfusions which were difficult because of her rare blood group.
Anne’s blood pressure started to vary, sometimes reaching exceptionally high levels. At one stage, her blood pressure went as high as 240 mm Hg which is twice the normal blood pressure. Her retinas became covered with small blood clots. She had a mild stroke during this period.
Her immune system was so degraded that even a cold could have proved fatal.
The cancer started to produce
worryingly large holes in her femurs.
In January 2004 Anne got a
stapphyloccocal aureus infection in her trachea (windpipe). The lining of her
trachea swelled up within an hour so that she could no longer breathe. She was
rushed to the
In April 2004, Anne was in the bathroom when her back suddenly gave way. The myeloma had eaten her backbone to such an extent that it became severed, paralysing her lower body.
She was taken to the hospital in
Throughout all of the time and experiences described above, Anne continued to be incredibly active, apparently happy and never complained about her condition.