Denise is now sharing her story in the hopes of helping other women.
After five years of routine blood tests to monitor paraprotein levels, Denise was told that they had been slightly increasing over time and that this was something that could eventually progress into myeloma.
“At the time, I didn’t even know what myeloma was and they explained to me that it was a type of blood cancer.”
Her official diagnosis came in October of 2018. Denise’s case was considered a lucky one as it was caught very early on. This meant when it came time to have a stem cell transplant, she was able to harvest and donate healthy cells from her own body rather than having a donor. The two rounds of stem cell transplants were completed after first going through six rounds of induction chemotherapy.
Before going through diagnosis Denise describes herself as being a very active person. Hitting the gym five to six times a week, lifting weights and attending regular spin classes. Although her mobility is not the same as it used to be, she still makes time to incorporate exercise into her regular routine.
She credits regular exercise as one of the ways she has supported her mental health. Another thing that has helped her through recovery is her faith. “I’ve been a woman of faith for a long time. Going through this has only intensified my faith and made it stronger.” She also adds, “I know that my faith has played a big part in my recovery.”
Denise feels optimistic about her future and has set a list of goals for this year. “You can’t go through a diagnosis and come out the same person that you were before.” With a smile on her face, she talked about achieving many of these goals already and is working hard on the others.
Although Denise doesn’t talk too much about her diagnosis and treatment, she knows that by sharing she could be helping someone else. “I don’t believe in giving things too much power, so I tend not to talk about it too much. But I’m also mindful that I could be helping someone else, so I have to share.”
She also advises those who have just been diagnosed to join a support group. She stated that Black Women Rising has given her a safe space and sisterhood.
“Sometimes in other groups you don’t have the same experiences. But Black Women Rising is like an exclusive club where you have a safe space to talk.”