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Myeloma hero, Don Wright, featured on CNN–again!

Posted on January 15 2013 by Pat Killingsworth | 2,700 views

Our marathon running hero, Don Wright, is back in the news again.  While I was in Atlanta at ASH, I learned that Don had just finished running a marathon in Hawaii, completing his goal of running marathons in all 50 states.  WOW!

Don running

The most impressive part of Don’s accomplishment:  He ran all of these marathons after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma eight years ago.

CNN has been following Don’s progress.  Here’s a link to their latest feature about Don; a comprehensive look back on his running and the challenges of living with multiple myeloma:

Don was one of the first myeloma patients to start taking pomalidomide (POMALYST) following the drugs revival five years ago.  I use the term, “revival,” because Celgene first started developing pom more than a decade ago.

He continues to use pom today–and its still working for him.

Don’s running accomplishments are indeed newsworthy.  But recently I shared how Don had helped and inspire me–not by completing marathons but by being there when I needed help most after I was first diagnosed back in 2007.

Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote for the IMF about my relationship with Don at ASH this past December:

Don Wright Helped Save my Life


I have written a lot about Don over the years.  Here are a few more links if you would like to become a fan like I am:

Minnesota Don’s inspirational story goes national


Inspiration X Two: Don Wright and Elijah Alexander


Myeloma survivor, Don Wright, completes marathon in Alaska


Support Group Magic!


If all of this doesn’t inspire you, nothing will!  Keep on running, good friend.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

9 Comments For This Post

  1. Nancy Shamanna Says:

    Wow, Congrats to Don Wright. Nice video segment…he just reminds me of some marathoners I have met too. To qualify for the Boston Marathon is a goal for many long distance runners. My husband has run about a dozen marathons ‘back in the day’, and I even finished two half marathons back in ’01 and ’03, but was never a fast runner. It is so nice that Don is still able to do that, and to be a spokesperson for myeloma too! I just can’t run anymore without back pain, so am preferring to walk, but it would be nice to get walking longer distances again…maybe yet another New Year’s Resolution!? And I take away from this that ‘pomalidimide’ is working really well for Don, also.

  2. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    I have followed the progress of several of the patients in Don’s original study. It worked well for all three–and for a long duration, too. Still working for Don over four years out. Interesting that it has kept Don’s disease stable and never all the way down to CR. A perfect example of how stressing over reaching or staying in “remission” can be a waste of valuable time! My case is a bit different. I have a history of developing lesions at very low protein levels. So while Don can successfully live and run with an M-spike hovering around 1.0, I seem to develop lesions at as low as 0.5. That’s why me and my docs get concerned even when my M-spike climbs a tenth of a point or so. Amazing how differently our bodies react to the same cancer, isn’t it?

  3. Holt Says:

    Excellent point Pat. The cure or control goal may be different for each of us. Don’s story is remarkable and I’d like to hear more of it. What treatments has he gone through? How did he maintain his fitness through some of the harsher side effects? Did he have to convince his docs to modify his treatments so that he could keep running? Do you think you could convince Don to give us more details?

  4. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Don has an excellent blog: He posts there once or twice a month, but his posts are comprehensive and always contain helpful tips, especially on nutrition. You can also find the link on the right side of my homepage under “Helpful links” Bet you could engage him by email. Kind, thoughtful man. A true inspiration – and I’m not talking about his running. Great family, too!

  5. Holt Says:

    Thanks Pat. I’ll check it out.

  6. Terry L Says:

    Hi Pat, I also enjoy reading Don’s blog and it is encouraging that his disease is stable for years with single agent pomalidomide. Maybe for certain low risk subsets of myeloma, this could be a semi-silver bullet in long-term control of myeloma kind of like Gleevec in CML. Maybe some people like Don never will become refractory to it. Hopefully, more trials will emerge to see. P.S. I pray all the time for myeloma’s version of Gleevec and I believe the answer is out there. Terry L.

  7. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    I hope that is the case too, Terry. But a word of caution: Revlimid works in new patients that are able to achieve CR an average of four years. Mine stopped working well almost to the day. Might pom be an improvement? Sure. Gleevec to CML? Probably not.

  8. suzierose Says:

    Hi Pat!
    you remark:

    “Mine stopped working well almost to the day. Might pom be an improvement?”

    And they have identified the reason for this cereblon. Pom doesn’t rely on it to be effective but both thal and lenalidomide do. The higher the patients cereblon levels the more effective the latter are. They are not considering testing those levels in patients prior to starting them on IMiD’s..more of the Ash 2012 news.

    I think that ‘other place’ did a write up on it too.

  9. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Good to know! One of the hopefully many improvements. Any explanation for why pom doesn’t see to illicit as deep and strong of a response as Rev? Just an anectdodal observation. No one I know is in CR using pom. Sure there are lots. But three for three in original group?

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