Spotlight on Yolande Paine:

Living well with myeloma   

May 2024

Yolande Paine

My name is Yolande Paine and I was diagnosed with myeloma at age 58. 

In June 2012, while waiting to board a plane at Vancouver International Airport, I received a phone call that would forever change my life.  

The hematologist wanted to see me the next morning to perform a bone marrow biopsy for suspected multiple myeloma. I did get him to agree to wait until the following Monday and, in a daze, I boarded that plane to Montreal.

I don’t remember much about the flight. I was meeting my husband Bill, who was cycling across Canada, and also visiting my paternal uncles in Quebec. I got on the flight thinking that if I did not go, I may never see my uncles again. 

Then the plan was to head to our cottage on PEI, my happy place, for the summer. 

I retired in May 2011 after a long and rewarding career as Manager, Human Resources for TD Commercial Banking in B.C. A year after I retired, I met with my family doctor for my annual physical. My white blood cells and neutrophils were just below normal.

Despite his assurances, my instincts told me

that something was wrong.  

I trust my intuition and I had experienced more frequent colds and infections that year; unusual for me. He referred me to a general hematologist at Vancouver General Hospital. I waited four months for an appointment.

The hematologist ordered more detailed testing which revealed the telltale

M-protein spike, a key signature of multiple myeloma.

I was diagnosed with smouldering myeloma in June, 2012. 

We were given the green light to go to PEI for the months of July and August 2012. Every night I went to bed terrified, but to combat our fear we decided to learn everything we could about the disease. Knowledge is power and with the support of Myeloma Canada and its resources we began to relax.  

I had lost my beloved father Eugene to CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia), a blood cancer which is a cousin to myeloma, a few years before. My father lived a full and happy life for almost 14 years after his diagnosis. He was my role model for living well with a difficult diagnosis. He was an inspiration to me and my family and he remains a true hero of mine.

Watching how my father dealt with his disease helped me cope

with my own diagnosis, to try and live my life with purpose, and 

without focusing too much on the future.

When I was first diagnosed with myeloma 12 years ago,

I could not have imagined being here today and thankfully in a period of deep remission, let alone enjoying such a full and active lifestyle. 

My beautiful nephew Luc and me

Here’s a picture of me with my beautiful nephew Luc. Luc was born just three weeks before my own “rebirth” through my stem cell transplant in 2016.

In my pictures, you’ll also notice many of me in the outdoors, often times with trekking poles in my hands. I’ve been an outdoor enthusiast all my life. My husband Bill and I live at the foot of the North Shore mountains in North Vancouver where there are many hiking trails literally at our doorstep.

Hiking in those mountains makes me feel empowered

and more in control of my disease. 

A lot of my favourite pastimes also involve other types of physical activity. Bill and I have done a number of long, self-guided cycle trips, including the 25-day Danube Cycle Way from the Black Forest region of Germany all the way to Budapest. 

For four years following my diagnosis we monitored my myeloma as my M-spike continued to climb. Eventually, after induction therapy, I had an autologous stem cell transplant in October 2016. 

The more than four years between my diagnosis and my transplant gave me time to prepare. I decided to approach my stem cell transplant like a work project. I knew that I needed to be very well prepared both physically and mentally in order to get through it, and to give myself the best chance for a full recovery. I knew that it would be important to continue to eat three times a day even if I didn’t feel like it, and to drink lots of fluids. I would have to walk every day. 

And, oh yes, I thought, binge watching Netflix might just get me through this thing!

The year before my transplant, my husband and I hiked the Camino de Santiago trail from its start in South West France, up and over the Pyrenees, and across the northern part of Spain, towards the Atlantic Ocean. 

We left the trail with a couple more weeks to go before fully completing it. 

It was time to come back and prepare for my transplant in earnest. 

But that time on the Camino was important in its own way: It taught me many of the things I needed to know, including endurance and steadfast focus, in order to get through my transplant and recovery. 

Getting back into shape,

post-transplant 2016.

An emotional hug with nurse Julie

who handled the nursing side of my

stem cell transplant in 2016.

The transplant went well.

I recovered quickly, and achieved a better than 93 percent response, a VGPR.

Six months later, it was time to decide on some type of maintenance treatment to keep my myeloma at bay.

For me, it is important to be a student of my disease so that I am able to make informed decisions in collaboration with my medical team.

I did my own research, assisted by Bill, to educate myself on my options, based on my own medical history and my desire to continue an active life. I began Ninlaro in May of 2017. 

I relapsed 2 ½ years later and was given the option of a second transplant or the triplet of Daratumumab, Revlimid and Dexamethasone. I chose the latter and started that regimen in September 2019 and today I continue to be in complete remission. 

Through Myeloma Canada's advocacy work,

Daratumumab was thankfully approved

and funded here in BC in April 2019.

I am incredibly grateful that for me, living well and living well with myeloma are virtually one-and-the-same.

My current treatment regimen and level of general health thankfully allow me to live essentially as I did before my diagnosis. 

Keeping fit has been a big part of my being able to live well with myeloma, and feel that I have some control over this disease. These days, Bill and I enjoy taking lots of walks with our two wonderful dogs, Cooper and Maggie. 

Just as it hasn’t always been easy for me, it also has not always been easy for Bill. But we share the same optimism going forward together. 

Like me, Bill is fully engaged in the opportunity to help other myeloma patients through his work with Myeloma Canada, serving on the Board for the past three years. His passion is to assist Myeloma Canada’s CEO Martine Elias and her committed team in raising funds for the pursuit of innovative new treatments, based on Canadian research, which hold the exciting promise of soon finding a cure for people living with this disease. 

This year, Bill and I have another active year of travel planned including a 12 day hike starting in late August, together with close friends, circumnavigating Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain (the trail passes through France, Italy and Switzerland). And, of course, we’ll spend a long summer once again on Prince Edward Island - our happy place! 

It is such a privilege to be able to have these plans and to enjoy such a fulfilling and active life 12 years after my diagnosis.

I have the care of an incredible medical team, the support of a great husband and so many close friends, and certainly a measure of good fortune, which have enabled me to achieve the health and excellent quality of life that I continue to enjoy.

Me and Bill hiking at Lake O’Hara

in the Rockies in the summer of 2020.

There are so many effective treatments for myeloma in use now and many others in the pipeline, making me very hopeful that myeloma will soon become, for a majority of patients, a treatable chronic condition.

And, I am hopeful that a cure may even be on the near horizon. 

There are so many people I am thankful for, but it is my husband Bill who has been by my side every step of the way. I would never have made it through without the support of my family and friends.

Through my involvement with Myeloma Canada, as both a peer support worker and 

co-leader of the Vancouver Myeloma Support Group, I have made great friends on this journey, especially my special friend Helene Lalonde, the other members of the Vancouver Myeloma Support Group and my wonderful friend Megan Gardiner, leader of the PEI Myeloma Support GroupWe uplift each other continuously. And I am grateful to Martine Elias, CEO of Myeloma Canada, for all her advice and support over the years.  




Editor’s note:

We hope you enjoy meeting our Spotlight Stars and your fellow Myeloma Canada community members. The Spotlight section of Myeloma Matters features stories and reflections supplied by members of our community - those living with myeloma, caregivers, healthcare professional - in their words. The views expressed and shared are those of that individual. We recognize that everyone’s journey and experience with myeloma is different.


To all of you who have shared your stories in the past, and those of you who continue to do so today, we are are an inspiration.  

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