Zac was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2000 when he was 21 years old. MM is a cancer of the white blood/plasma cells which are a crucial part of the immune system and are produced in the bone marrow. Due to the fundamental nature of the system affected, multiple myeloma manifests systemic symptoms that make it difficult to diagnose. It is generally thought to be incurable.
Symptoms of Myeloma include bone pain, infection, anemia, and renal failure. Bone pain is due to bone lesions that form, in Zac’s case, in his spine and skull. The lesions are best seen in scans as “punched out” areas – he always said his bones & skull looked “moth eaten”. Involvement of the lesions on the vertebrae can cause spinal cord compression, so Zac had several surgeries to rebuild his crushed vertebrae and prevent permanent spinal cord damage. High-dose chemotherapy/steriod and radiation treatment with hematopoietic (donor) stem-cell transplantation has become the preferred treatment. Zac began his first treatments in September of 2000 and had his first stem-cell transplant with Texas Oncology at Baylor University Hospital- Dallas in April 2001. He was in remission until 2004 and had his second donor transplant in 2005. Zac remained on traditional and experimental chemotherapy/ steroid regimens from 2004 on. In March 2006 the skull lesions began to become a larger problem causing a seizure and affecting his eye sight. In Fall 2007 Zac was diagnosed with Steriod-Induced Diabetes and infections began to become unmanageable, leading to several surgeries and many hospital stays at the University of California Hospital in Sacramento. Ultimately in February of 2008 Zac returned to Texas to spend 6 amazing weeks with his closest friends and family before ultimately succumbing to renal failure and passing through his life on earth on March 31, 2008.