I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving–and that I can stop coughing! I may skip the short trip to have an early afternoon meal with Pattie’s family today. I don’t want to infect anyone else–I wouldn’t wish this on anyone–and my nieces in grade school have a bug, too.
I was pleased to learn that the national media is starting to write about the treatment successes that myeloma patients have shared in recent years. Here is an excerpt from an article I found in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday:
New drugs extend myeloma patients’ lives
Victoria Colliver – November 20, 2012
A wave of new treatments for patients with multiple myeloma, a deadly blood cancer, has doubled survival rates over the past decade from an average of three years at the time of diagnosis to more than seven years.
When Stephen Barrager started on a clinical trial drug at UCSF three years ago, the cancer had ravaged his kidneys and had progressed to the point that a stem-cell transplant – which can be used to control the disease – was no longer an option. He was so desperate he stopped taking his medications so that his condition would worsen enough to allow him to qualify for the trial.
The go-for-broke approach is paying off for the 71-year-old San Francisco resident, who was first diagnosed with the disease in 2007.
“It was like a miracle. My numbers just went down. In two months, they were down into normal range,” said Barrager, referring to the levels of protein in the blood that are checked to monitor the disease.
More than 20,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the United States annually and about 10,000 a year will die from it. In multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells grow out of control in the bone marrow, causing bone and kidney damage. The disease suppresses normal bone marrow function and wreaks havoc on the immune system.
After five years, about 34 percent of people diagnosed with multiple myeloma will still be alive, one of the lowest survival rates among all cancers. While there’s still no cure, newly approved drugs and other treatments currently undergoing testing are offering hope and results for patients…
Don’t be discouraged by the last paragraph. I purposely left that in so we could discuss it. Why would such a positive article feature something like that?
Look, I’m guessing that the writer included it to help emphasis the importance of the new wave of therapies she describes. And writers love drama. Nothing more dramatic than saying that!
Additionally, the last paragraph may not have the impact on regular readers that it does on a myeloma patient or caregiver. And despite all we hear, those stats are still correct. Blame lots of older patients that die from a variety of co-morbidities for pulling the numbers down–and the fact that patients diagnosed in the last five years aren’t dying yet. I should write more about this tomorrow.
For now, CLICK HERE to read this surprisingly long and comprehensive article. Not all inclusive, but a good overview for the guy or gal on the street.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat