Paul Keddell is an Air Force Veteran in Poquoson, VA who retired as a Comm-Computer Officer in 1997 with 26 years of active duty. He was diagnosed in April of 2006 after experiencing months of fatigue, fluctuating blood pressure, bloody noses, and unrelenting headaches. His general practitioner thought maybe there was a mistake with his lab results so he reordered the lab work. It was during the discussion of these results of the second labs that Paul first heard the words “M” protein, MGUS, smoldering myeloma, and multiple myeloma. After initial visits to his local oncologist and being “as frightened as rabbits chased by a pack of dogs”, Paul and his wife, June, spent the next three weeks getting second, third, and even fourth opinions. In the two months from preliminary diagnosis to the beginning of treatment, Paul went from a “M” Protein spike of just 2 to 7.8. Compounded with anemia and bone lesions, Paul was diagnosed with Stage 3-A myeloma. After consultation and weighing the options, their treatment plan took shape and centered around tandem stem cell transplants: autologous followed by a mini-allogenic (reduced intensity). They felt this treatment plan would offer the closest thing to a “cure” and they felt ready for any of the associated risks. Incidentally, Paul comes from a large family and he had three donor matches among his siblings. He underwent both transplants at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in January and June of 2007.
Paul had a year of complete remission and has since experienced minor complications he credits to both the myeloma and the mini-allogenic transplant. He’s currently on a Revlimid and dexamethasone regimen. In the meantime Paul is working full time and enjoys spending time with his family. Paul and June have four children and seven grandchildren, with an eighth due later this year. Their leisure time is spent volunteering as Sunday school instructors, Relay for Life team members (June is Team Captain), Patient Advocacy Foundation fundraisers, Shamrock Sportsfest Half Marathon workers, bone marrow donor drive coordinators, and spending quality time with their kids and grandchildren boating, geocaching, off-road four-wheeling, and hopefully soon, sailing again.
Paul’s involvement with the Southeastern Virginia Multiple Myeloma Support Group (www.seva.myeloma.org) began in late 2008, just as Veterans Against Myeloma (VAM) was starting. While catching up on work e-mail after returning from a trip, Paul noticed that there was still one day left to a bone marrow drive being conducted at Langley Air Force Base. He sent out an e-mail to everyone in his organization notifying them of the drive and emphasizing its need and the ease of being tested and becoming a donor. His e-mail led to eleven individuals being added to the Department of Defense (DoD) and National Bone Marrow Registries the following day. It also led to Paul being introduced to the area Multiple Myeloma Support Group coordinator and VAM. He and June have been active participants in the support group ever since and have also participated in numerous patient forums sponsored by the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Paul credits support group involvement as being instrumental in maintaining a positive attitude and staying informed.
Paul is a local volunteer coordinator for the DoD Bone Marrow Donor Program. Of note, the DoD program adds more people to the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry than any other organization. One of the program’s benefits is that there is no registration cost for military members, government employees, or for anyone who can gain access to a government installation, as did donor registrants including Paul’s son-in-law, his brother, and co-workers. Paul encourages anyone who would like to hold a bone marrow donor drive at a government installation to contact the DoD Bone Marrow Donor Center at 1-800-MARROW-3. For more information, including a schedule of upcoming bone marrow drives, visit the DoD Bone Marrow Donor Center website.
Paul is proud to add veteran Air Force blue to the VAM team, and encourages your support of the IMF’s excellent myeloma patient education and research efforts.