Three years ago today, Gretchen and I sat in Dr. Richardson's office as he acknowledged that I had progressed from Smoldering Myeloma to full-fledged Multiple Myeloma. By then, I had done enough research to know that this was serious news indeed. At that moment, both of our lives changed forever.
I am thinking back on the feelings I had that day in Paul's office. Was I scared? Yes, but something about Paul's manner was very comforting and soothing. He looked into my eyes and said confidently, "You are going to live into your eighties". Just like that. What might have been a traumatic experience suddenly became more one of concern and resolve. Dr. Richardson's optimism gave me hope. I immediately signed up for the MLN9708 clinical trial he offered me, and from that moment on, I embarked on a mission of "How am I going to beat this thing?". It was now my job to research everything I could about MM and to participate as much as possible in my own care.
Over the past three years, I never dwelt on the question of "Why did this have to happen to me?". Shit happens, so just deal with it! Of course I was very fortunate to have responded so well to the therapy. I don't know to what extent my positive attitude had to do with it, if at all. In any case, I am blessed to celebrate this 3rd anniversary in Complete Response (CR).
In the intervening time, great strides have been made in the search to contain or cure MM. The many new drugs available give additional hope to relapsed/refractory patients. Recent research on monoclonal antibodies, immunization therapies, nanoparticles, gene therapy, personalized treatments, and other promising approaches have opened new frontiers in the fight against this disease. I am fortunate to have Dr. Richardson and to be at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the epicenter of much of this research.
Every month as I go back to the Farber for my blood test and Zometa infusion, I have a bit of anxiety as to whether my remission continues. I know that it is inevitable that on one of these visits, I will find that MM has reared its ugly head again. But that could be many months or even years away, and when that happens, it will just be a new phase in the ongoing fight. Dr. Richardson's words on that first day are ringing in my ears. My eighties are still 9 years away. You gave me your word, Paul, and I believe!