When 57-year-old Pat Killingsworth was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2007, he never dreamed how the disease would change his life. Given only three to four years to live, the ex-history teacher turned successful real estate professional got busy learning all he could about bone marrow cancer.
Now, eight years later, Pat is the author of the world’s most-read patient blog and is working on his sixth book on the topic. In addition, as a speaker for Millennium Pharmaceuticals, he travels the country sharing his story with others.
Soon after receiving his diagnosis, Wisconsin native Pat and his wife, Pattie, a three-time cancer survivor herself, traded their winter lifestyle for the more comfortable Florida climate. They first settled in Weeki Wachee, north of Tampa, and this summer, the couple moved to a newly renovated home less than three blocks from the beach on picturesque Amelia Island. “I was looking for good medical care in a location close to the airport for my work travel,” explains Pat.
With 28 measurable lesions in his bones, Pat has undergone radiation therapy, a stem cell transplant, and numerous drug treatment therapies to slow the progression of his disease. He is willing to endure a certain degree of pain to maintain his active lifestyle, but recently visited Ackerman Cancer Center for his fourth series of radiation therapy to relieve severe, bilateral hip pain.
“Radiation therapy is an important aspect of this disease,” says Pat. “Especially palliative care. The relief is almost instantaneous, but the effects are not lasting. Multiple myeloma is susceptible to radiation therapy, but the disease is relentless.”
Pat describes the care he has received at Ackerman Cancer Center as “exceptional” and appreciates the whole patient approach that includes doctors, nurses, social workers, and nutritionists; something he says is rarely seen elsewhere. He realizes his prognosis is not a favorable one, but he has chosen to live each day to the fullest and, hopefully, to help other multiple myeloma patients along the way.
“When things are bad, you start thinking they are going to stay that way. I try to present my story with others in mind and anticipate some of the challenges they will face,” he explains.
As for himself, Pat says he is cautiously optimistic. “No part of oncology treatment is changing as fast as that of blood cancers. My meditation mantra is ‘the journey’ and I repeat that often.”