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Studying Myeloma Progression and Diet: A New Kind of Clinical Trial
Posted: Aug 14, 2022
Studying Myeloma Progression and Diet: A New Kind of Clinical Trial image

After being diagnosed with prostate cancer and renal cell carcinoma in 2010, Will Wright thought that he had met his match with medical diagnoses. Little did he know that a decade later, he would later be diagnosed with smoldering myeloma, a precursor condition of multiple myeloma. 

Shocked, but wanting to understand the disease, he was referred by his doctor to a myeloma specialist, Dr. Urvi Shah. Will did some research on his new doctor. He met with her and gained respect for her authority and authenticity. 

Dr. Shah was vocal about her whole food plant-based lifestyle, and how she believed that a plant-based diet was something that anyone who had health issues like diabetes or hypertension should look into. This type of lifestyle eliminated processed foods and increased fiber intake through plant-based eating, thus significantly reducing cholesterol and other things that can be harmful to your body.

She told Will that a new clinical trial was opening to test how diet regimens impacted myeloma progression, and she invited him to join. 

At first, he was hesitant. As a Black man, he shared his culture's innate distrust in medical procedures and clinical trials due to inhumane practices that had occurred throughout history. However, Will also recognized that as an African American male, he is underrepresented in most clinical trials, leaving very little information to him or his specialists about how things could positively or negatively impact his journey. 

He also considered the fact that this clinical trial didn't have to do with treatment, but would instead be a quality-of-life clinical trial. He decided to sign up.

The clinical trial provided 5 days' worth of meals, leaving 2 days up to the patient to try to adapt to this new lifestyle on their own. The first box he received made Will question his participation in the trial. Was the family chef of famous bar-b-ques really willing to leave that lifestyle for roots, twigs, and leaves? 

Luckily, his wife and child decided to participate in the new plant-based lifestyle with him, and the nutrition benefits became more important than ever to Will. 

The trial lasted for three months. Will consistently ate the whole-food plant-based meals provided for him, made tasty vegan meals of his own, exercised with weights at least four times a week, and every other week, meticulous testing (including blood work, urine, and stool samples) was required. He strictly monitored his sugar and potassium intake. 

It didn't take long for Will to notice a difference. Even without knowing his exact lab results, Will started to notice positive changes. His weight began to drop, his energy levels increased, his blood pressure stabilized and he became stronger. 

Even after the clinical trial concluded, Will continued to live the whole food plant-based lifestyle. He had started the clinical trial at 216 lbs, and less than a year later, he was down to 160 lbs. He hasn't taken a shot of insulin in over six months. 

And even though the data on how this diet regimen affects myeloma progression is still being assessed, due to his significant reduction of comorbidities he now qualifies for life-saving myeloma treatments should the need arise. 

Will's story is an incredible example of how quality-of-life myeloma clinical trials are critical to research and life-improving. 

Speak to your doctor today about quality-of-life clinical trials that you can participate in, or search for a personalized clinical trial you qualify for within HealthTree Cure Hub. 

The author Audrey Burton-Bethke

about the author
Audrey Burton-Bethke

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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