Arno Muller: Ninety Years Old and a 36 Year Survivor of WM
I am 90 years old, play tennis doubles twice a week, and walk 2 miles daily.
I have also lived with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia since 1986.
I immigrated to the United States from Chile in 1957. My physically active lifestyle carried me through my school years. I joined the Chilean rowing team as a university student and competed in the 1954 Rio de Janeiro South American Championship and the 1955 Mexico City Pan American Olympics.
This provided a solid health foundation. Despite my healthy lifestyle, I developed visual problems nearly three decades later, leading to a cataract removal and lens implant in 1984. A pre-surgery blood test found a hematologic problem for this then-53-year-old person who considered himself perfectly healthy.
Two years later, I was diagnosed with WM. Get your affairs in order, I was told, because the statistical survival rate was five years from the time of diagnosis. At the time, three of my four children were in college, and I decided to ignore this grim news. Feeling immortal, I continued bicycling, swimming, and hiking. This proved to be a wise move, and I ended up suspending biannual blood tests until 2000 after I retired at age 68.
In 2003, however, physical exercise became a struggle. A blood test would reveal igM ^8000 and viscosity ^3.5. Two days of plasmapheresis and four weekly Rituxan infusions followed. In half a year, I was back enjoying the beach and feeling immortal!
But living in paradise exacted a toll. I have had cancer surgery of the lip, nose, prostate, hernia and melanoma. The WM story is:
- 1986: diagnosis of WM
- 2004: 2x plasmapheresis + 4x weekly Rituxan
- 2010: 4x weekly Rituxan
- 2012: 4x weekly Rituxan
- 2013: 5x monthly Bendamustine + Rituxan
- 2018: 280 MG Imbruvica daily
I have the superstition that I can defy all cancers with a healthy lifestyle that includes bicycling, swimming, and playing tennis daily. I eat plenty of nuts, fruits, and vegetables. I drink V8 Juice, fruit juices, and one mug of coffee and glass of wine a day. I favor fish and chicken for meat and try to avoid “factory-made” food.
Cancer aside, I have been infected with Covid twice, including a breakthrough infection in January 2022 that resulted in mild flu-like symptoms for two weeks. Playing tennis doubles twice a week is now a challenge, and I reduced my daily walks from 3.5 miles to 2 miles.
But I continue to persevere.
Virginia Beach, VA