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Making the Hard Choices

Jewells’ multiple myeloma made him re-evaluate what was important.

“If there’s some issue early, [Diplomat is] all over it. They’re calling the nurse. They’re calling you. They’re dealing with the insurance company. They’re fighting for you.”

— Jewells, Car Enthusiast & Diplomat Patient

Before he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, Jewells was not in love with his life.

“I just went to work, came home, cut the lawn, took my kid to band [practice] … stuff like that. I had a couple friends. … We’d go out once in a while, but I really had a very uneventful, boring life.”

Plus, he was dissatisfied with his job and his marriage was failing.

It’s tough to imagine that a cancer diagnosis could help him find happiness.

After about a year of feeling exhausted, Jewells reluctantly went in for a physical. Initial tests revealed he was anemic — a strange result, he learned, for a man his age. His doctor ordered further testing. He ran a cardiology test. The results were normal. They looked at his lower and upper intestinal tracts. Still, there was nothing unusual. Finally, nearly four months after that first test, a specialist diagnosed Jewells with multiple myeloma, an incurable but treatable type of blood cancer.

Because he was only 42, the diagnosis was unexpected. One specialist told him that, in the past five years, she had only seen one or two other cases in a person as young as Jewells. In most instances, people don’t get multiple myeloma until they are in their 70s.

Multiple myeloma is a slow­-developing cancer, so he was able to postpone treatment for a few years until his symptoms became more apparent. Still, like many newly diagnosed cancer patients, he asked himself some difficult questions. How would he spend the rest of his years? What was his happiness worth? At that moment, Jewells began to transform his life.

“I decided I want to do things. I want to be somebody. I want to go places. I want to have a life I want.”

Jewells and his wife went through a tough divorce. He kept his Mustang and moved into a buddy’s guest room. He resigned from his job and started a new one — one he loved. He got a place of his own and a promotion. He met, dated and married Diane. And he began to face the reality of his treatments.

About three years after his diagnosis, it was apparent Jewells needed to begin treatment. He received a stem cell transplant and was prescribed medication to keep the cancer under control. It was an initial success. Jewells enjoyed a relative sense of normalcy and continued to build his new life for about two years.

“Do something in your life that makes a difference — something that touches other people’s lives.”

However, the trouble with myeloma, as Jewells put it, is that it’s like a dandelion.

“You go out in the yard, and you cut the top of the dandelion off. You mow it off, and the dandelion’s gone. It stays gone for some period of time, then the dandelion pokes back up, and you mow it again. That’s myeloma. You never really get rid of the root.”

Throughout his treatments, he became an advocate for himself and those in the cancer community. He started leading a growing support group to help myeloma patients across the state. His wife coordinated events for leukemia and lymphoma foundations, and together they have done fundraising and advocacy work for the International Myeloma Foundation. On top of everything, Jewells found time to spread the word about Diplomat.

“I’m an advocate for Diplomat because … if there’s some issue early, they’re all over it. They’re calling the nurse. They’re calling you. They’re dealing with the insurance company. They’re fighting for you — to make sure that if I have to have my drug on Friday, my drug is delivered to me, where I am, on that date, so I can make sure I can start my drug on time.”

Jewells has also had great success with Diplomat’s CarePak™. His treatment schedules are sporadic, and he takes several medications for a variety of complications. Keeping track of it all is challenging.

“I have a bunch of different things to take, so I have my little CarePak. I can pop those out, and I don’t have to worry about what day I’ve got to take what, which is really nice.”

For Jewells, his diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. It forced him to confront his life, making tough decisions and radical changes. Through this journey, he gained powerful perspective.

“I went from having nothing to having this really great life. [My job] was wonderful, because I had great employees and got to travel the world and had a really charmed life. … I don’t have a lot of regrets at this point.”

Reflecting on his journey with cancer, Jewells said he was grateful for the changes it led him to make. At his support groups and with his friends, he frequently shared his best advice.

“Do something in your life that makes a difference — something that touches other people’s lives.”

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