Cancer Survivor Hits High Notes, Inspiring Fellow Myeloma Patients

| Even during his own battle with myeloma, Jay Edwards, 60, of Fort Worth, Texas, is always looking for opportunities to comfort and inspire fellow patients at the UAMS Myeloma Center.

The musician shares his soothing sounds on the saxophone whenever he has the chance. One memorable occasion was when, as a patient in the midst of treatment, he was playing on the sun porch of UAMS’s myeloma inpatient unit on F7 with one of his musician sons, Jay Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia.

“I was playing there, had my IV cord coming out of my shirt, and was getting hung up in it,” he recalled, laughing. “When I got finished, one of the other patients told me, ‘You know, people, who don’t have myeloma are reassuring us all the time, but when I walked in here and saw that chemo going through you just like me it makes a big difference. It’s an example for me.’”

“So you just never know what kind of effect you can have on people,” he said.

Another time during his treatment, Edwards was in the breakroom one night preparing spaghetti for his wife, Ruth.

“A lady came in and asked which patient I was with and when I told her I was the patient she was very surprised. She said, ‘You’re the patient? And you’re in here fixing dinner for your wife?’ She told me her husband was going through a tough time and asked if I could visit with him in his room.

“While I was a patient at UAMS, I got to visit with a lot of people,” he said.

Edwards’ journey with the rare blood disease began in 2016 after going to the emergency room for high blood pressure and learning he had an aortic aneurysm. Additional testing revealed multiple myeloma and he had a stem cell transplant that year.

The former Fayetteville resident was referred by Highlands Oncology Group in Fayetteville to the UAMS Myeloma Center. After six cycles and six months in the hospital, Edwards has been in remission since 2017.

“I feel good and I’m cancer free,” he said. He sees his physician, Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D., every six months.

“Everybody in this place is awesome,” Edwards said of the Myeloma Center. “You are in the best hands at UAMS. The doctors and staff are so comforting. They really care, they work wonders and it shows.”

The Sherrill native continues to share his music with others through his CD, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” and live performances. His most recent chance at the Myeloma Center came in early February before a presentation by van Rhee. Edwards and another of his five children, son Jerjuan Edwards of Bentonville, performed as patients and family members arrived.

“The music is therapeutic for me and the listeners,” said Edwards. “It’s important to me to share music because it’s uplifting, soothing and as that lady told me, it means so much more coming from a fellow patient, to see that you can be at peace in the middle of your storm. No matter what life throws your way, if we take it positively, our journey is so much brighter and myeloma is just a bump in the road.”