Our Stories

Hyacinth Grimes' Story

by Hyacinth Grimes
[ Hyacinth Grimes ]
Hyacinth Grimes

My story is to give hope to those persons who have been diagnosed with multiple Myeloma or any other chronic disease.

It is my faith in God, trust in my medical team and a positive attitude that gave me the courage and the strength to face my disease and take charge.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 1998 at the age of 56 years. During my 56 years of life, I was perceived to be a healthy person with minor and common aliments such as back aches. The aching back pains were checked and I was told it was early arthritis. However, in 1997, I started to get the occasional elevated temperature, frequent colds, sore throats which took increasingly longer to get better and back pains (mainly in the rib-cage area) and joint pains. This responded well to pain medication and gave relief. Feeling tired and lethargic was frequently experienced. Resting for long periods would help. Medical treatment and advice was given for all the above complaints when they occurred.

During the last week of December 1997, I began to feel and look quite ill with a sore mouth and elevated temperature. I saw my dentist and my doctor. X-Rays of my teeth/mouth and blood work were done. I was treated by my doctor and dentist.

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On the night of December 30th, my doctor was called to see me because I was vomiting, looked very pale and was generally feeling ill. My blood sugar and temperature were very high, and I was treated for the above symptoms.

By the evening of December 31st, I started to get chest pains and found it difficult to breathe. The doctor came to see me again, and I was told I would have to be hospitalized because of a severe chest infection.

On January 1st 1998, I was diagnosed with pneumonia caused by some unknown virus. My time in hospital was eventful and sometimes life- threatening. However, I was discharged from the hospital after almost four weeks.

I returned to work on April 3rd 1998. Two weeks later I began feeling ill again, with all of the previous symptoms and was hospitalized once more.

Many tests were repeated and new ones were performed, these included various chest and body x-rays. Blood tests for autoimmune disorder and HIV were done, all of which came back negative. A bone marrow aspirate was done and was inconclusive. I continued to be in and out of hospital, the cause of my illness was unknown, that was until July 1998.

During the months leading up to July, I prayed to God and asked Him to let the doctors find what was wrong with me. I told God that if I knew what was causing me to be sick, I would learn how to cope with it, because I knew He would give me the strength and the understanding to cope.

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God answers prayers

I was referred to another doctor, a haematologist. I told him my family history, my lifestyle, and he also reviewed my hospital records. He had his suspicions but of course he had to start all over again.

X-rays, blood workup, urine analysis and a repeat bone marrow aspirate were done. I was informed the same day the bone marrow was performed, that it came back positive for Multiple Myeloma. The urine test would confirm the presence of Bence Jones protein at a later date, there was no Bence Jones protein in the blood.

My heart sank on hearing this because I knew multiple myeloma was some form of cancer, the doctor had made known to me his suspicion when we spoke earlier. However I was able to smile and say ‘thank you doctor.’

My reply must have given him cause to be concerned. He came back later that afternoon to see if I was okay, and to find out if I understood what he had told me about my bone marrow result. He also wanted to know if I needed any medication to help me sleep during the night. I knew God would not let me worry to the point where I could not sleep, so I said no to the medication. You know what! I slept through the night. The next day my doctor and I discussed treatment and other options. During this conversation I found out that my doctor was a Christian and believed in God, the joy I felt I cannot explain. I knew the long wait for a diagnosis was worth the waiting, God had placed me in good hands.

I told my doctor that God was the pilot, and he was the co-pilot and I am the vessel. Together we will take control of this disease and have a good outcome.

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My chemotherapy treatment started immediately. Like all chemotherapy treatments, there are moments of concern, good days and bad days. Sometimes I was not able to get my treatment on time because I was too ill. Before my last chemotherapy treatment, I had a repeat bone marrow aspirate done and there was just a very small amount of cancer cells detected. Finally I completed what was to have been 6 months treatment in 9 months on March 1999.


In April 1999, I was given the OK to continue my treatment in Canada. This option was available if I fit the criteria for an autologus stem cell transplant. I left Barbados and kept my Canadian appointment to see the specialist on April 19th, 1999.

After my consultation and more investigation, I was accepted for a stem cell transplant. At this stage I had no cancer cell in my marrow or urine. Thank God. I underwent intensive chemotherapy treatments along with other treatments and tests, also the collection of my stem cells, all- 3,000,000 plus of them.

All treatments were done in an outpatient clinic during the months of April and May and early June 1999. This was not without anxious moments, like when my Quinton line started to bleed and I had to seek emergency treatment at a nearby hospital. The following day I went back to my medical centre and the line had to be removed. An appointment for admission to hospital was given to me for my stem cell replacement.

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On Monday June 14th 1999, I was admitted to hospital in preparation for my stem cell transplant (BMT) replacement later that week. On admission, the doctor explained the events and treatments leading up to the replacement of the stem cells, and the possible danger following the procedure. During the day I had a Hickman line set up in my right sub-clavicle vein. A regime of treatment started; this would include chemotherapy that would destroy my bone marrow.

On June 18th, re-infusion of my stem cells was done via the Hickman line. Following this procedure I was taken to the isolation room.


I was told that the next 21 days would be critical days, this was during the bone marrow re-graft stage, and if everything went well, I would leave hospital within 30 days. However, it was pointed out that the risk of the graft not taking is minimal because I was using my own stem cells, and that infection was a much greater concern and could be life threatening.

Apart from the usual post-transplant experience, occurrence of a mouth infection and elevated temperature were my biggest problems, but responded to vigorous treatment.

On July 2nd, I was discharged from the hospital. My stay in the hospital was 19 days overall (15 days post-transplant). I had follow up visits to the haematology clinic until my discharge home to Barbados on 17th August 1999.

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On my return to Barbados, I started post-transplant medication up-keep, regular checkups by my doctor here in Barbados and bi-annual checks in Canada and I can now report that my Myeloma is in remission. This is due to God, He is my life!

Doubtless my body has undergone some changes; some of the drugs have left their side effects, but I am alive today, and am enjoying a good quality of life.

God is using me in a positive way to reach out to persons in Barbados and across the Caribbean that are diagnosed with haematological cancers.

Thanks to my supporting teams; family, friends, church, health-care personnel and co-workers for their words of encouragement, prayers, and financial gifts. In so many ways, you gave of yourself to ensure my comfort.

Thanks be to God who has walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death.

Life is a gift, it comes from God.