Louisiana Matriarch Leans on Faith, Family, Friends in Fighting Myeloma

By Linda Haymes

The stay-at-home mother of six, now enjoying the next generation of her extended family, savors time with her 14 grandchildren, ranging from 16 years to 4 months.

“We have 11 girls and three boys and we have a lot of fun,” said Credeur, 59, who lives in Sunset, Louisiana. “I’m just enjoying life right now.”

“I had 10 of them sleep over the other night,” she said matter-of-factly and unfazed by the double digits. “The older ones play with the young ones. All I have to do is make sure there’s food.”

Five years ago, Credeaur, at age 54, was diagnosed with low-risk myeloma, found after she slipped getting out of bed one morning and broke five vertebrae.

“I had no other symptoms,” she said. “We now joke that God had to knock me on my behind to get my attention.”

A brother-in-law, who had earlier received the same diagnosis and was treated at UAMS, advised her to head there as well. His condition was so severe when he was diagnosed that he had to fly to Little Rock.

“At home, they told him, ‘You might only have six months to live’ but after he got to UAMS and they confirmed it was myeloma, the doctor and nurses told him ‘You’re going to be fine; we’ve got you.’”

“When I was diagnosed, my brother-in-law told me, ‘I’ve already called and they said they will see you. Get to Arkansas.’ So that’s what I did. At that point, I just had a few grandchildren and a couple of my kids were not yet married. I had too much more life yet to live.”

“When I got here, I told the doctor that I wanted him to do the exact same thing he did for my brother-in-law,” Credeur recalled. Like him, she had a tandem transplant.

“I knew if I could just get here, everything would be alright,” said Credeur, who leans heavily on her religious faith.

At UAMS, she had kyphoplasty treatments to repair her broken vertebrae with injections of medical cement.

“I went from needing strong pain medicine to none at all.”

The low points of Credeur’s treatment came after taking melphalan following her transplants.

“I got very sick,” she recalled. “But even after being hospitalized, everyone kept telling me, ‘I know you’re sick but you’re going to be fine.’ So that was the seed of hope I hung on to.”

Credeur is now in remission. During a visit six months ago, she celebrated her success with a Seed of Hope ceremony, tossing a seed-shaped token into the seed-shaped marble vessel in the lobby of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

Her friend of more than 30 years, Angela Malagarie of Pecaniere, Louisiana, was her recent travel companion to Little Rock so Clint could remain home to work. Another of Credeur’s longtime friends, Melody Spence of Church Point, Louisiana, has often accompanied her.

Credeur sees Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D., Myeloma Center clinical director, every six months for checkups.

“I like him a lot,” she said. “He really listens, but he also jokes and laughs; he’s very personable.”

She says her doctor’s nurturing nature extends throughout the entire Myeloma Center staff.

“I’ve been amazed by how caring and knowledgeable everyone has been. The level of care is extraordinary, from the cafeteria workers to the doctors to the nurses.

“I make it a point to tell everyone, from the ones who come and clean my room in the hospital to the doctors who’ve treated me, ‘Thank you for your dedication because without you, this wouldn’t flow,’ she said.

“I was just so thankful I had a place that I could come to for help.”