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Ride Your Therapy Horse Until It Drops!

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Late last year I met a 19-year multiple myeloma survivor at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meetings in San Diego.

She was an elderly African-American woman who seemed to be in surprisingly good health.

As I often do when I meet any long-time survivor, I asked her what her secret was for living so long. She thought a moment and said, "Therapy is like riding a horse."

"A horse?" I asked. 

"Like riding a horse," she repeated a bit mysteriously. "You should ride that horse until it drops--then wait for it to get up, and ride it again!"

As we talked some more, I began to understand her point. Patients should use a therapy for as long as they can, then go back to it and try it again and again until their doctor is sure that they have gotten every possible day--or mile--out of the drug or drugs that they've been using.

She explained that there are only so many myeloma drugs available to use at any one time. She felt that getting the most out of each of them had added years to her life. "And I've been lucky!" she said. "Just when I thought that I was running out of time, another drug came along to help me live a while longer."

My conversation with this wise and elegant survivor changed the way I think about myeloma therapy.

So many of us can be in a hurry to change horses midstream, abandoning a therapy that might not be working as well now as it did before. But that can be a mistake.

Even if your numbers aren't going down anymore--maybe they're stable, or even rising slowly--squeezing every precious day out of your therapy can add up to a lot of extra living in the end.

Who knows? A few extra months here and there might make the difference between becoming a statistic or living to fight another day! Wise advice, indeed!

Feel good and keep smiling! 


1 Comment

I am a recently diagnosed MM patient. After just three months my M-Spike numbers have plummeted. I have, in my mind, a very good Oncologist who from the first day started me on Velcade and soon after added REV and DEX. I also have met with doctors at the University of Maryland and also NIH. I will be joining a REV maintenance program at NIH when appropriate. The doctor there, Dr. Roschewski, gave me a very good analogy for surviving. He said, "Keep kicking the can down the road and repeat. All along there will be new drugs and new ways to fight. And one day there will be a cure! Be sure to keep kicking that can until that day comes." So, that's me, walking down a dusty road on a hot summer's day kicking an old can and each time walking up to it and kicking again and again.

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