Tad Chance is a family guy who loves sports and values quality time with loved ones. He has a big, almost Brady Bunch-style family—a wife, three sons, and two stepdaughters. He loves spending time with them and watching his kids play sports, including his son who plays in an intramural league at Colorado State University, or taking his family to see professional games. It doesn’t matter which sport, as long as the team is from the California Bay Area—the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco Giants, and the Golden State Warriors.
In August 2021, Tad received a diagnosis he couldn’t watch from the sidelines: stage 2 IgG kappa multiple myeloma.
Getting His Head in the Game
The path to his diagnosis was a short one. Tad visited his primary care provider who ordered blood work after Tad reported some back pain he was experiencing.
“My doctor asked how I was doing, and I said I was doing fine but that my back hurt,” Tad said. “She did a bunch of blood work and then called me back for more tests after the first round revealed that I was anemic. When the additional blood work came back, she sent me for an oncology appointment, where I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.”
Multiple myeloma is fairly uncommon, with a lifetime risk of only about 0.76%, according to the American Cancer Society. It develops in plasma cells, which are found in bone marrow. Multiple myeloma often causes anemia (low red blood count), issues with bone and calcium, kidney damage or failure, and frequent infections.
The type of multiple myeloma diagnosis one receives is based on the immunoglobulin (protein) made by the myeloma cell (a white blood cell). Tad’s type, IgG Kappa, is the most common type of multiple myeloma.
“When I was diagnosed, the doctors said it was in 65% of my bones,” Tad said. “By the time I received the diagnosis, I had already accepted it. I was more in the headspace of ‘OK, what’s the game plan?’”
Tad was ready to step up to the plate, and his team at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers (RMCC), including Dr. John Burke, was there to guide him through what they hoped would be a victory.
The Game Plan
Tad’s treatment plan involved a medication combination of what’s commonly known as RVD (Revlimid, Velcade, and dexamethasone) and a stem cell transplant.
“I took a high dose of Revlimid for three weeks on and one week off,” Tad said. “I would also get Velcade injections and then dexamethasone, which is a steroid I took once a week.”
When he experienced side effects from his treatment, such as neuropathy and fatigue, Tad allowed his body to take up defense with naps, a healthy diet, and supplements.
“I got terrible neuropathy in my hands and feet and felt extreme fatigue,” Tad said. “Some days I felt like I wanted to give up, so I had to give myself some space and acceptance and realize that some days would be tougher than others. I stopped using the term ‘bad days’ and started calling them ‘tough days.’ During my tough days, I learned to just accept that my body needed rest and I had to keep myself from overdoing things. I told myself I’m going to have tough days, but I can get through the tough days to enjoy and celebrate the good ones.”
In December 2021, after ending RVD treatment, Tad received a stem cell transplant, a common procedure for people with multiple myeloma. Stem cells are the building blocks of all the blood cells in the body. A stem cell transplant involves receiving a high dose of medication to destroy existing bone marrow cells and then a transplant of healthy stem cells to replace them. For Tad, that meant receiving high-dose chemotherapy before the transplant.
“Everybody’s experience with a stem cell transplant is different,” Tad said. “I could have talked to a hundred different people and still wouldn’t have been prepared for my personal experience. People have their tough days in different ways, but I got through it with my wife supporting me along the way.”
If Tad was the player, Maci, then his girlfriend, now his wife, was the coach. She threw herself into caregiving, researching his diagnosis, organizing records, and advocating for Tad.
“Maci was just amazing at helping take care of things,” Tad said. “She allowed me to just focus on getting better.”
The Victory Line
Tad has been in remission from his multiple myeloma since the end of September 2022, and he had an entire support team with him to celebrate.
“We got the results of my latest labs two days before my wedding, so we were able to share with everybody in attendance that I was now in remission,” Tad said. “There were smiles, laughter, and tears. It was great.”
Since being in remission from multiple myeloma, Tad and Maci have both started volunteering as coaches at the HealthTree Foundation, a free program for people with multiple myeloma and other cancers to find support and education about their disease during their cancer journeys. Tad and Maci developed a guide to help people diagnosed with cancer navigate the experience. Tad was kind enough to share it with RMCC.
Tad and Maci’s Playbook to Living with and Sharing Your Cancer Diagnosis
- Let yourself feel. Whatever emotions you experience when you are first diagnosed, let them come. Give yourself the freedom and space to feel sad, angry, scared, etc. Ask “why me?” if you need to. You’re allowed to take the time you need to process your diagnosis. Don’t feel obligated to share the news with anyone right away if you don’t want to.
- Learn about your diagnosis. Ask your cancer provider as many questions as you can about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Research your cancer type from credible sources, such as the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Find acceptance for your cancer. According to Tad and Maci, once you come to accept your diagnosis, you will be able to make clearer decisions.
- Share your diagnosis with your family, friends, and loved ones.
Give them as much information as you have about your cancer. Tell them your treatment plan and answer as many questions as you can. The more education you can give your loved ones, the less fear they will likely experience.
- Allow your loved ones space to feel. Your diagnosis will likely be emotional for your loved ones. Allow them the time and space to process their emotions, just as you did for yourself, but don’t feel as if you need to put on a happy face for them.
- Tell your loved ones how they can support you. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Your family and friends will want to help you, and only you can let them know what you need.
The team at RMCC is rooting for you. Learn about our comprehensive support and survivorship resources at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers.