Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help you fight infections by
making antibodies that recognize and attack germs. Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells.
My name is Julian McKay, I’m a father of four and grandfather of nine. Six years ago I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a blood cancer that’s also in my bones) after suffering from a crippling sore back and sore ribs. I am telling my story to let people know that early detection is critically important. If you have a sore back, I recommend you get it checked out as soon as possible! I waited far too long.
It’s a real shock when you find out you have cancer.
I was 70-years-old and working at the Alliance Freezing Works when I developed an excruciating sore back, and sore ribs. I remember lying in bed and being unable to shift the pain. I thought I must have hurt it. Never once did I think of cancer.
I know now that I left it too long. I dealt with the pain alone for probably about a year before one night it got so bad that I called one of my son’s begging him to help me and he called an ambulance.
I was sent for all kinds of tests in hospital and by the end of the day I was sent to Dunedin Hospital in the ambulance. Soon I was told I had cancer and I spent the next 2-3 weeks in Dunedin undergoing tests and treatment.
I remember being in total disbelief. How could a sore back be cancer? I make sure to tell people now, if you have an unexplained sore back please go and get it checked!
I’ve always been a fit and healthy man. As a young boy I ran in the school’s sports races and would always place, I played rugby for Southland School Boys’ (junior and senior), I swam in carnivals and I would bike for miles with my paper run. I joined the army and later worked at the wharf at Bluff as a cargo worker for years. I spent years rock n’ roll dancing and even run my own deejay organisation here in town called Mista rock n Roll DJ.
I was blessed with four sons Rani, Jason, Arron and Taylor – three of them are in Australia now and the other is in Dunedin. I have six grandchildren in Australia and three here in New Zealand.
The last six years have been a battle but I have been lucky to have met some incredible people along the way. The staff at Oncology in Invercargill are great. I would sometimes spend up to four hours a day there in chemotherapy. Although, lately my treatment has been suspended as I was quite unwell.
My sister, Diane, has always looked after me. She has been my rock! Earlier this year she was heading away for work for a couple of weeks and she was worried about me being on my own, so she got in touch with Barbara Metzger.
Barbara has been fantastic! She has guided me and kept a good eye on me. She makes sure I’ve got all of the things I should have, or getting.
She even took me out to the Race4Life recently at Teretonga and this was one of the best days of my life! I was able to check out the views in a helicopter, speed down the beach on the back of a Harley and race round the track in a Porsche at 230kmh!
Barbara has been a wonderful support and I feel comfortable having her in my corner.
The Maori Cancer Kaiarahi Service is a free service in Southland designed to support Maori and their whanau with high suspicion of/or diagnosis of cancer to get the right information, make informed decisions about treatment options, and get to treatment.
Visit us at 92 Spey Street, Invercargill, or phone (03) 214 5260 or free phone 0800 925 242.