Retired UAMS HR Chief Shares Myeloma Journey through Blog

By Linda Haymes

But it was inspiring and incredible for him and his loved ones. Long explained why in a recent entry titled “Tomorrow starts a new decade” on his WordPress blog.

If you’ve been a follower of my blogs or have read any of them, you probably know that I’m a person who lives with cancer… I have what’s called Multiple Myeloma. Some really bad stuff that takes the lives of more than 11,000 people in the United States each year. …. I’m one of the blessed ones. I’m a twenty-plus-year survivor.

The former associate vice chancellor and chief human resources officer who retired in 2013 after 23 years at UAMS, does not dread growing old. Instead, he relishes it. Living with myeloma is one of the topics he addresses at

My journey has been one of fear, tears, boisterous laughter, faith, love, thankfulness…whatever emotional and mental dynamic of which you could possibly imagine.

 Long was diagnosed 20 years ago in early 2000 so he cherishes all his additional time, whether it be a day or a decade. His 70th birthday on July 21 gave him another chance to celebrate his life.

Looking back, I didn’t expect to be here pecking out some of my thoughts on a laptop, preparing to share them with my small number of followers. I’m grateful for each of you, and especially for the times you’ve given me feedback.

Long began blogging in early 2016.

“I’ve always been very observant of things around me,” he said. “Blogging seemed like a good way for me to excise images from my mind, document them and see what they look like written down.”

He posted an early essay, “A Dark Companion”  to a couple of Facebook pages created for myeloma patients and others with chronic illnesses. The large positive response convinced him that blogging could help fellow patients.

“It was a way I could touch people in areas of their lives where they needed encouragement,” Long said. “The responses I receive from readers are often kind, encouraging and heartwarming, especially whenever someone tells me that what I’ve written was just what they needed to hear.”

Long’s journey with myeloma began in the fall of 1999 with nightly fevers, weight loss and reduced energy. The lifelong runner had to give up his daily five-mile runs.

“The energy just wasn’t there anymore,” he said.

An appointment with his primary care physician revealed abnormal blood work and blood in his urine. Long’s doctor suspected myeloma and referred him to the Myeloma Clinic. Further tests revealed lesions on his skull and confirmation of high-risk myeloma.

I can recall when I received word of my diagnosis. As you can imagine, it hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks. … If you’ve experienced receiving some heart-stopping news before, you know what I’m talking about. Not only does it seem as if your heart stops, but also the world around you.

He received a tandem stem cell transplant in 2000. In late 2017, Long relapsed but he improved after a year of treatment with the drugs daratumumab and Revlimid. For nearly two years, he has been taking Revlimid for maintenance. He visits UAMS every two months for blood draws and every six months for a full checkup with Maurizio Zangari, M.D.

“I’m living a good life for a 70-year-old with myeloma,” he said, adding that he takes an hour-long bike ride every morning followed by some light weightlifting. He still maintains his own yard and does chores around the home he shares with Christene, his wife of 34 years.

I’ve been able to see my three kids grow into adulthood, and I now have six grandkids and one great-grandchild. I love them all, and I think that’s quite the God-given legacy to leave behind. Of course, I’m not ready to just yet…

Aside from blogging, Long spends his free time reading, listening to smooth jazz, watching science-fiction movies, and sewing colorful dashiki garments popular in West Africa. In recent years, he has become interested in African history. A trip to Ghana, West Africa with his wife and a few relatives got delayed from this past May until December.

He remains active in his community through his church, St. John Missionary Baptist, and serves on the City of Little Rock’s Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission.

Long credits a lifetime of regular exercise and his faith in God with helping him withstand the challenges he has faced in fighting the disease.

He also recommends the UAMS Myeloma Center to fellow patients at every opportunity.

“Our facility (I feel like it’s mine, too) has been at the cutting-edge of myeloma treatment for a long time,” he said. “People come from all walks of life, from around the world to seek treatment here. I believe we have some of the best, first-class physicians and researchers.

“The staff at the UAMS Myeloma Center has always made me feel like they are concerned about my well-being and that I get the best of medical and bedside care available.”