Velcade (bortezomib) and dexamethasone—to kill the
cancer cells. Lambert experienced mood swings, weight
gain, insomnia, nerve pain, temporary vision loss and
even a life-threatening infection that sent him to the
emergency room in septic shock.
Then there were the painful bone marrow biop-
sies to measure whether the treatment was working.
To get a sample, the doctors inserted a needle into
Lambert’s hip bone to remove bone marrow. “I had to
get into a mental state where I would just curl up and
bear it,” he says.
Lambert missed several months of work. His co-workers banded together to donate 400 hours (roughly
2. 5 months) of vacation time to help Lambert minimize
the unpaid leave he’d have to take. The gesture was a
huge help in easing the financial stress, he says.
The next step in his treatment was the stem cell
transplant that would help restore the bone marrow’s
ability to make normal blood-producing cells. As
doctors prepared him for the transplant, however,
Lambert got bad news. He had cardiomyopathy, an
abnormality in his heart muscle that is an uncommon side effect of chemotherapy. It meant his heart
wasn’t strong enough to withstand the stem cell
transplant—he’d have to wait several months for his
heart to recover before undergoing the procedure.
“That right there was the cherry on the sundae,”
dog, Kiba, in