Last night I wrote a short tease about the charter patient advisory board meeting I attended Monday and Tuesday in Boston. During the next week I will share with you a number of exciting technical therapy advances being made by the Takeda Oncology Company (formerly Millennium, makers of Velcade) One of the reasons Takeda acquired Millennium was there recent track record of success. But for me, more importantly than that, were the inspiring stories I heard from my fellow advisory board members. Did I say inspiring? Try life-changing and life-affirming! Just hyperbole you ask? I will let you be the judge:
Jim Bond is a retired accountant from Shaker Heights, Ohio. Jim has a wonderful family and beautiful, talented wife. He is also a 17 year multiple myeloma survivor. 17 years! Jim has used/tried/been subjected and exposed to every possible myeloma therapy. Three transplants, Dex, Thalidomide, Prednisone, Melphalan, Velcade and Revlimid. He is four inches shorter than he was 17 years ago. He has a metal plate in his shoulder, arm and hip. Yet he trains cross-country on his bicycle up to 100 miles a day and travels around the country speaking to myeloma support groups and at medical conferences. Jim has a spirit that far exceeds his now 5’7” frame. Not shy to share his opinion or to lend a helping hand, Jim is an exceptional father, patient and now, I am proud to say, friend. I want to share the story of our first meeting with you Monday morning. Circumstance had prevented a formal introduction between us as the morning meeting began. About 10:30 am on break, we happened to be in the men’s room at the same time. After seeing me enter, Jim approached me and warmly shook my hand. “Pat, I was touched by the story of your journey you shared with us this morning!” He continued, “You sure have been through a lot the last few years!” Ten minutes later, after the group needed to send out a search party find us, Jim looked me in the eye and said firmly, “Pat, I know your inspiring story and now I know you. Pat, you will live longer than I have. I know you will!”
17 years? That is longer than I have ever allowed myself to dream of living. 17 years? And he feels MY story is inspiring? 17 years? And I have been through a lot? We returned to the meeting, already dear, fast friends. And for the first time since my incurable diagnosis in April, 2007, I felt hard, fast and genuine hope I might indeed live a long and productive life.
Feel good and keep smiling! I haven’t stopped since that fateful meeting Monday morning! Pat