It's a tale of two complete strangers, brought together at a time they needed all the support they could get. Both South Dakota tough guys, both with the same last name of Anderson, and both were suffering from painful back pain. Gerry Anderson of Sioux Falls said, "I was thinking this is all part of getting older and rub some dirt on it and figured it would be okay." Bob Anderson of Alcester South Dakota said, "My back was killing me and after finally listening to my wife we came to the doctor."
They both came to the Avera Cancer Institute's Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant Group. Doctors told both men their pain was actually multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells which causes bone deterioration. Avera Doctor Kelly McCaul explained, "People get broken bones, broken hip or pelvis, it can also attack the spine, and back bones."
It was a life changing diagnosis but one these two men would not go through alone. After a diagnosis right around the same time their treatment brought them to an Avera waiting room. A nurse told them they were both Andersons and from there the rest is history earning them the new nickname of " The Anderson Twins," on the floor.
It hasn't been any easy road but it's one these two friends have walked together. Their treatment has been almost identical. They both started with chemotherapy. After they showed a good response both of them had stem cells collected, and then went through a stem cell transplant. Through all of that they've been by each others side. They've become close with each others families and offered each other support they both call priceless.
They both agree it was so nice to be able to talk with someone who was going through the exact same things, and dealing with the same side effects.
They both attend support groups together, check in on each other over the phone, and still see each other when they get treatment at the hospital. They are both in remission, and take a chemo pill 21 days on and 7 off. They also receive bone strengthening medication usually on the same day side by side. They'll tell you whoever gets there first gets the comfy chair. As their journey continues so will this fateful friendship, support that no doubt helped on their long road to recovery.
Both of the Andersons said the care they got at Avera was second to none and they also highly recommend the banana smoothies at the Quarry Café at the Prairie Center.