William Matsui, M.D., an oncology professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, recently received a Translational Research Program grant from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to pursue the development of treatments that can prevent relapse for multiple myeloma patients.
Several new therapies have been approved recently that have dramatically improved the ability to reduce tumor burden in previously treated multiple myeloma patients. However, the disease is still incurable. Will your research be able to change that?
The introduction of new therapies has significantly improved outcomes for patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and in many cases these medications can eradicate all measurable tumor burden. Unfortunately, cures remain rare in myeloma and most people will eventually relapse. If we can better understand how and why myeloma grows back, we hope that we can prevent relapse and eventually improve the long-term outlook for myeloma patients.
Survivorship Series: Art, friends and chair yoga help Jane to live each day to the fullest
By definition a survivor is a person who copes with difficulties in their life. In 2006, my 80-year-old father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Like most people, I had no idea what that meant. After doing some research, I discovered it to be a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, which can be treated but not cured. He was diabetic and had heart disease, there weren’t many treatments, so options were limited. He passed within ten months. I didn’t realize it then but he showed me how to be strong and positive when faced with adversity.
In 2008, I retired from teaching art, mostly because I was feeling tired all the time and didn’t want the program I was running to suffer because I couldn’t keep up. I chalked it up to old age. I was enjoying my first full year of retirement when I woke up with a backache, and after two months of tests, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma myself.
Since that day in July 2010, I've gone through many treatments, including induction therapy, two kyphoplasty surgeries repairing four vertebrae, and two tandem autologous stem cell transplants. I relapsed in 2012 and have been in treatment since then, getting close to our favorite word…remission!
“What is multiple myeloma?” Those were my words after the doctor’s review of my lab results for a routine and random high blood pressure exam in November 2008.
I had always been healthy, had never been in the hospital, never even broken a bone. I was in great shape: a 46-year-old high school biology teacher, head softball and volleyball coach, with a beautiful young family including two teenage daughters. I got not only cancer, but an incurable form of cancer. The diagnosis was confirmed the following week by a bone marrow biopsy. My marrow was 83 percent cancer cells, yet I showed no typical symptoms such as weak or breaking bones. I was extremely anemic, but it was not preventing me from coaching. I had no clue I was sick.