CARLYLE - Well known Carlyle resident Don Valentine has been a hard worker and a fighter all his life.
Early in his working career, he was employed by Steffensen Construction and then Humphries Holdings. In 2016, he completed 30 years of service with Carson Energy Services.
Following six months of unrelenting back pain, in 2017 he was diagnosed with plasmacytoma, a form of cancer that begins in plasma cells. He received radiation to treat that tumour and had rods and pins inserted to stabilize the damage to his T-4 vertebra.
In August 2020, Valentine’s disease had progressed to multiple myeloma. Two more surgeries were required to stabilize lesions in his neck and lower back. After the second surgery in May 2021, chemotherapy treatments began. Unfortunately, the disease continued to progress.
The only remaining possible treatment was to conduct a stem cell transplant. In August 2021, he was admitted to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon where the operation was completed over a four-week period.
An autologous bone marrow transplant is a procedure where a patient’s healthy stem cells are collected from the bone marrow before treatment, stored, and then given back to the patient after treatment. The blood is “harvested” and returned to the body after high doses of chemotherapy are given to the patient.
Risk of illness is extremely high during and after this procedure as the body no longer has immunity against any diseases. Fortunately, stem cell research continues to advance, and the success rate has risen to nearly 80 per cent.
For the past 18 months, Valentine continues to remain positive and his health continues to improve. He continues to have spinal maintenance therapy. Valentine takes a chemotherapy pill every day and undergoes stringent monthly checkups.
“I think I finally have my health issues under control,” said Valentine. “I no longer must wear either a neck brace or a back brace and all of my hair has grown back. I still get tired easily and must move around constantly to avoid seizing up. It’s been a tough six years, but it could have been worse.”
Valentine and his wife Judy have nothing but praise for Saskatchewan health care, including the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic, the Arcola Health Centre, and especially his Regina orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kahled Rodwan.
“Doctor Rodwan has been with us every step of the way. I owe him my life. Knowledgeable and compassionate, one couldn’t ask for anyone better,” said Valentine.
Valentine turns 68 this month and he and Judy moved from town to their acreage north of Carlyle in 2014. They are animal lovers and have a houseful of dogs and cats.
With ongoing mobility issues, he now has one major focus in his life. He and Judy are more than happy to be involved in the lives of their children and 11 grandchildren. This winter, they try to travel to a minimum of three minor hockey games every week and are always there to lend a helping hand.
“You know, I have always had a positive attitude which has really helped me through this. Judy has been my rock and is the best nurse I could have asked for. Cancer can be beaten. If I can do it, anyone can,” said Valentine.