To review, Total Therapy is an aggressive approach to treating multiple myeloma. The key components are hitting the myeloma hard right away, before it has a chance to adapt, then slamming the myeloma twice by administering tandem stem cell transplants. The patient then undergoes up to three years of maintenance therapy after the second transplant, using a combination of different chemotherapy drugs.
I only know one patient who has ever undergone such therapy. My new friend, Nick van Dyke, from California, is nearly finished with the program. Nick is doing great! He is very enthusiastic about the potential of Total Therapy which, along with donor stem cell transplants, are seen as the only current therapy regimens which have any real hope of curing multiple myeloma. Does it work? Know one knows for sure. Is it worth the risk? Only the patient undergoing the procedure can tell you that. All I can add is that, knowing what I know now, I would not participate. The program goes against my current strategy which is – to do whatever it takes, with the least amount of risk – to stay alive until a verifiable cure is found. For me, even a single stem cell transplant is a high risk procedure I am trying to avoid, let alone two! So good luck to Nick and other Total Therapy patients. I have chosen to watch, wait, stick and move. By using novel therapy agents like Revlimid, Velcade and the many soon to follow alternatives, I still hope to never need a stem cell transplant. But if I do, I will be ready! And if I need a second, I will proceed without hesitation. I’m just not going to jump in and electively try two transplants without concrete proof, universally recognized by oncologists and hematologists, which specialize in treating multiple myeloma.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat