To be honest, I started writing this on the third day of ASH, but quickly realized I was going to need to rewatch the sessions and then watch them again. It’s taken me some time to decipher what all the random words I had scribbled down were, and to gather my thoughts. 🙂

I am definitely not a doctor and nowhere close to a scientist however, I have a newfound appreciation for those that are. Just knowing there are so many brilliant minds from around the world working towards finding answers to ensure a better quality of life for myeloma patients, from early detection through relapse and beyond, is comforting and reassuring.

This was my first year attending ASH. As a newbie to ASH (virtually) and someone who was just diagnosed 3 years ago, I was overwhelmed with all the scientific jargon and needed a cheat sheet with all of the abbreviations.

HUGE shoutout to the other virtual leaders and in-person leaders who were able to put things into terms that I can actually understand.

A few things that I took away are:

  • They are looking into earlier detection for smoldering myeloma
  • Less invasive ways of testing (peripheral blood vs bone marrow)
  • There are benefits of using 4 drugs vs 3 – D-VRd has shown that it is significantly better than just VRd giving a deep and durable response. 
  • There are talks about having a better understanding of what causes relapse so they can ensure that therapies will improve the outcomes of the patient
  • Immunotherapy modifies the immune system to target and fight cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy- like CAR-T cell therapy + bispecific antibodies have been extremely successful in MM, despite there being some patients that don’t respond or relapse after a short time.
  • CAR-T – Chimeric Antigen Receptor T- cell is therapy for relapsed refractory MM (RRMM). It predominantly takes place in the in-patient setting to monitor for adverse effects like cytokine release syndrome (CRS). 
  • There are 6 approved CAR-T therapies.

Information about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been an eye-opening and humbling experience regarding the disparities shown to the myeloma patients in the black and brown communities, as well as the LBGTQIA communities. I feel like this is something that we all need to be more cognizant of because it is going to take ALL of us to make a change. It’s important that we bring awareness, discussion, and education to the inequities (biases), and discrepancies that are and have been occurring. 

We can’t close the gap in disparities if it’s not discussed, acknowledged, or recorded. If these aren’t being discussed, then they aren’t being reported. 

Furthermore, I thought I’d share some great resources that are currently available:

  • IMF M-Power Campaign
  • Just Ask Training Program – increasing diverse participation
  • the FCC Connectivity Program

I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Joe during the Facebook Live about earlier detection prior to bone damage. His response was that the average multiple myeloma patient sees their primary care doctor with symptoms consistent with multiple myeloma 3 times before receiving a diagnosis and that he predicts there will be a time that they will be able to start testing earlier, before it causes bone damage.

I am so thankful for this opportunity so that I can help educate and bring more hope and encouragement to the entire Multiple Myeloma community.

This amazing opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without all of our generous sponsors. Big thanks to Bristol Myers Squibb, Janssen, Takeda Oncology, Regeneron, and Karyopharm.

You can find the Facebook Live with Dr. Joe here 👉