The AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) interviewed myeloma patient Cindy Brown as part of their "Advancing the Frontiers of Cancer Science and Medicine" initiative.
This AACR Cancer Progress Report contains survivor stories from patients like Cindy, and information on advances in cancer immunotherapy, cancer risk reduction, molecularly targeted therapeutics and more. You can learn more by visiting their website here: Cancer Progress Report from AACR.
In a moving 5-minute video that you can watch above, Cindy shares the circumstances of her multiple myeloma diagnosis nine years ago and how it affected her and her family.
When diagnosed, Cindy had been experiencing hip pain and insomnia due to the pain. After receiving a scan, physicians found a tumor the size of a grapefruit near her sacrum. Hours later, she was diagnosed with cancer and became completely overwhelmed.
She sought out treatment with an oncologist who specialized in multiple myeloma. They explained to her that she would be started on a course of therapy that would be a combination of steroids and chemotherapy. Once her numbers reached a certain level, they promised, she would have a stem cell transplant using her own cells to reboot her immune system.
Because Cindy didn't get as good of a response to her initial therapy, she was put on a new seven-drug combination chemotherapy for three months with the plan to go into an allogeneic stem cell transplant (using the stem cells of another person). One of her brothers was a 90% match, so they thought it would work.
In Cindy's case, unfortunately, the allogeneic stem cell transplant did not work because her body took the new cells too quickly and caused heart failure. Cindy almost lost her life. It was a rough couple of weeks, with many of her family members around, but she made it through.
Cindy has had a couple of relapses since her allogeneic transplant. She was given the opportunity to participate in a phase 1 trial of teclistimab, which is a new class of drug for multiple myeloma known as bispecific antibody therapy.
"Cindy has always been ahead of the curve in willing to try new treatments for multiple myeloma," shares physician and myeloma expert Dr. Amrita Krishnan. "She had an agressive transplant from a donor that left her with little options."
In the video, Dr. Krishnan goes on to explain the mechanism behind this new class of immunotherapy drugs, bispecific antibodies.
"They use the patient's own immune system by activtating their own T-cells and targeting specific antigens on multiple myeloma cells."
Cindy shares her passion for clinical trials.
"I am a huge advocate of participating in clinical trials. There is no way to advance the science without people being willing to try new things."
Cindy went on to share how happy she has been with teclistimab. Not only has this treatment allowed her to have her longest remission, almost 3 1/2 years. Her quality of life has significantly improved, allowing her to travel, participate in pilates actively, and in essence, living a pretty normal life.
"The true impact that research has had on multiple myeloma... it's gone from a disease with a median survial of 2-3 years to a median survival of over 10 years. That's really because of all the drugs that have been developed in the past two decades." shares Dr. Krishnan.
To hear more, watch the video above and remember to check out the AACR Cancer Progress report for more inspiring survivor stories.
Looking for more myeloma patient stories? Check out their experiences here: Myeloma Patient Stories
You can record your own story through our journal feature either through writing or video: My Myeloma Journal
about the author
Audrey is the Editor for the HealthTree Foundation for Multiple Myeloma. She originally joined the HealthTree Foundation in 2020 as the Myeloma Community Program Director. While not knowing much about myeloma initially, she worked hard to educate herself, empathize and learn from others' experiences. She loves this job. Audrey is passionate about serving others, loves learning, and enjoys iced chais from Dutch Bros. She also loves spending time with her supportive husband and energetic three-year-old.
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