I have received several e-mails lately questioning my pro-novel therapy stance. As I wrote a few days ago, Thalomid, Revlimid, Velcade and a number of other newer multiple myeloma chemotherapy drugs are all loosely classified as novel therapy agents. These inquiries/criticisms are coming from patients who strongly support natural alternatives to these drugs. One person even went so far as to question my motives and ask if I was paid by Celgene, maker of Thalomid and Revlimid.

I’m not offended. Transparency is a good thing!

No, I am not on any drug company payroll. The Celgene Patient Assistance Program did help me, after I was first diagnosed in the spring of 2007, by providing me with a free month’s supply of Revlimid until I could get my insurance company to pay for the drug. This was before I was even using a Caring Bridge site, had started writing my first book, Living with Multiple Myeloma, or had started either of my two blogs, http://www.helpwithcancer.org/ or www.MultipleMyelomaBlog.Com. I haven’t received a penny of expense money or compensation from Celgene since. I am a member of Millennium’s Patient Advisory Board. Millennium, maker of Velcade, has paid my expenses several times to fly out to Boston to share my story and help the staff there try to find better ways to help multiple myeloma patients and caregivers. I find this both ironic and commendable. I have never used Velcade, yet members of the Millennium staff still sought my advice and included me in their program. For six days work I did receive an honorarium totaling $500—hardly a pay-off.

No, I support the use of novel therapies because they work. I am not anti-alternative medicine. I am not against the use of stem cell transplants. Do I have a personal agenda? In the continued spirit of transparency, let’s examine that tomorrow.

Feel good, keep smiling and, whether you support my position on a particular topic or not, please keep reading! Pat