Saturday, May 29, 2010

Just Stay in School!

Congratulations to my youngest daughter, Lizzie, for her spectacular attendance record this year in Kindergarten. Her mom is her music teacher and as they see each other in class or in the hallway or in the cafeteria, they have a secret signal (to which I am not privy) that wordlessly says "I Love You!' Proud of you Elizabeth! You, too, mommy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

IMF Conference Call Previewing the Upcoming ASCO Meeting

A conference call, sponsored by the  International Myeloma Foundation, was held this morning to preview information to be presented at June's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago. The call was lead by Brian G. M. Durie, MD,Chairman and Medical Director of the International Myeloma Foundation and myeloma specialist at Cedars-Sinai Outpatient Cancer Center.

Some highlights of the call:

Dr. Durie briefly talked about what he referred to as the 'Three Muskateers of MM novel agents' - Thalidomide, Velcade and   Revlimid. He also mentioned new drugs in the pipeline -  most notably Carfilzomib, Cytoxin, Pomalidomide and other new agents being studied.

Two significant multi-national trials conducted by the French group, Inter Groupe Francophone du Myelome (IFM), and the American group, Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), regarding the use of Revlimid as a maintenance novel agent after induction and stem cell transplants were discussed.

Dr. Durie stated that there have been 'spectacular results' with the use of the three drug combination of Velcade, Revlimid and Dexamethasone in maintenance settings. He shared that Revlimid seems to be well tolerated in the longer term of use, citing that one of his patients has been using the novel agent for eight years with nominal side effects.

Among other highlights to be presented at ASCO, will be approximately 50 abstracts focusing on Velcade (bortezomib) and its expanding use in Myeloma treatment,  The Italian Multiple Myeloma Study Group's focus on molecular remission, the continued use of cytogenetics in treating MM,   and many other exciting presentations.  

Dr. Durie also said that the inaugural Summit of the International Myeloma Working Group will convene after the ASCO conference dismisses. 

For more detailed information please take a look at the ASCO meeting preview at The Myeloma Beacon's website at .   

Stay tuned for the latest & keep fighting!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Prayer for a Stranger

I stopped by the local pawn shop this morning on a mission. I hadn't been to one in probably 20 years. At that time I was looking to pick up some sound gear for a band I was helping. Today I was looking for another Wii gaming system to stream Netflix movies to one of my TVs. I bought one, it didn't work and, even though the store had an as-is no return policy, they gentleman kindly let me exchange it for another one, which does work. What does this have to do with myeloma you might ask?

Well, nothing. But, with apologies to Paul Harvey, here's the rest of the story.

I'm somewhat garrulous and have always enjoyed talking with people, friends and strangers alike. They certainly don't get much stranger than me! Anyway, at the pawn shop, R. and I talked about several things. It turns out that he's originally from Bentonville, AR the home of WalMart and it's founder Sam Walton. R. grew up knowing Sam and went to school with some of his kids. What's this have to do with Myeloma?

Well, did you know that Sam Walton passed away in 1992 after battling Myeloma? He donated significant money to help establish The Myeloma Institute for Research & Therapy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. This is where I and thousands of folks from 50 different countries have been treated over the last twenty or so years.
Anyway, that's not where I'm heading with this post. It seems that R.'s wife has been fighting cancer for the last three years and it's been rough. It's apparent after talking with him for a scant few minutes that a very decent, kind and compassionate human being. My heart immediately went out to him as the concerned caregiver of a woman he loves. You all know what that is about.

I'm asking that in the middle of all of your concerns, that you'd take a second to think a kind thought, say a prayer, send a good vibe, whatever you believe works, to R. and his wife, E.R. I believe that it helps.

Thank you for caring! Keep fighting!


PS- R. If you visit this site, thanks for sharing your book with me. You and E.R. have created some beautiful, thoughtful poetry. My warmest wishes to you both.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

American Society of Clinical Oncology Meetings

No doubt you're aware that  the American Society of Clinical Oncology will be meeting in Chicago in early June. There should be some interesting information about Myeloma treatment coming from the meetings.

Following is a link to an article at the website regarding Revlimid. As noted on the site, this information is preliminary and will still be subjected to peer review. Nonetheless, it's an exciting read.

Be sure to visit where fellow myeloma patient and writer Pat Killingsworth will be covering and reporting from the ASCO meetings.

I know that times are tough for some of you right now. Please know that you are thought of often and are loved from afar. Keep fighting! 


Monday, May 24, 2010

Why So Testy?

I don't know about you, but waiting for Myeloma test results makes me more nervous than I like to admit.

Since my diagnosis in November of 2008 I've taken hundreds of tests. Blood tests, Pet Scans, MRIs, bone biopsies, bone marrow aspirations - you know the drill. We wait in suspense for the magic numbers, the pictures and the reports to come back to tell us how we're doing.

Unlike for the tests we all endured in umpteen years of school, we can't sequester ourselves in the library or  crack open a  Myeloma and You Cliffs Notes Study Guide to get better results. No late night study session is going  to bring my M protein levels down. How do you study for a blood test? 

All silliness aside, I've had to come to grips with the fact that I don't have as much control over the the outcome of these tests as I'd like. As proactive as I might want to be, some things are out of my hands. 

It's not that I'm totally powerless. I take my pills, show up for my weekly chemo, get plenty of rest and exercise. I try to keep a positive attitude and I pray regularly. I read about Myeloma, I study the studies and pretend, with a knowing nod, that I understand what the scientists are talking about. I also listen closely to my doctors and nurses. My Irish grandmother would be proud that I eat my chicken soup.

With all of that said, I recently traveled to Arkansas for my latest three month checkup. I had a PET Scan, an MRI, blood and urine tests and bone marrow biopsies.  I let the Myeloma pros do what they do. For my part I rolled up my sleeve and gave them my blood. I let them take tiny pieces of my hip bone and samples of my bone marrow. I let them slide me into one of those space-age tubes to take a peek at my innards. 

Then I waited for the results.... tick...tick...tick .........

I am grateful to share that everything looks good. I am still in complete remission.  The Triple Threat Trio of Revlimid, Dex and Velcade are still doing their thing.

For Myeloma we all take that test
It’s the outcome in which our hopes rest
No offense nasty spike
But it’s YOU we don’t like
Low Monoclonal protein numbers are best

There once was some plasma from Nantucket....... better not!

Keep fighting!