Thursday, December 11, 2008


Just had this article emailed to me. Dr. J is our doctor. And I personally would also like to add that he has a superb bedside manner and quite possibly the dopest accent I've ever heard.

Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) Honors Dr. Andrzej Jakubowiak, University of Michigan with 2008 Center of the Year Award

The Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) today announced that it has awarded the University of Michigan Cancer Center and Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, the 2008 MMRC Center of the Year Award. The MMRC Center of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding efforts of an MMRC Member Institution and its respective principal investigator in advancing the field of multiple myeloma research and drug development.

In awarding the 2008 MMRC Center of the Year Award, the MMRC evaluated its Member Institutions using a cutting-edge "scorecard" whose metrics include the number of clinical trials launched, the speed at which clinical trials were opened, and the number of patients enrolled in the clinical trials within the Consortium. MMRC Member Institutions were also evaluated for their contribution of new ideas and institutional engagement in the MMRC.

Under the leadership of Dr. Jakubowiak, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Multiple Myeloma Program at the University of Michigan, the Michigan site has opened numerous clinical trials to date and has consistently met or exceeded patient enrollment forecasts. Dr. Jakubowiak was also recognized for his exemplary stewardship of pharmaceutical and biotech industry partners " most notably his role in facilitating the first MMRC study testing four FDA-approved drugs in combination to treat untreated multiple myeloma patients " and his focused leadership in advancing novel pre-clinical and clinical research ideas.

"We are incredibly proud to be part of the MMRC, a consortium that is committed to advancing high-quality, innovative clinical trials of today"s most promising compounds and novel combinations," said Dr. Jakubowiak. "I have no doubt that their commitment to results, as evidenced by the Center of the Year Award, will lead to the development of the next generation of treatments for multiple myeloma."

The MMRC Center of the Year Award bestows a one-year grant to fund a full-time on-site Multiple Myeloma Project Coordinator to support the clinical trials conducted within the MMRC network.

"The MMRC Center of the Year Award recognizes the University of Michigan and, in particular, Dr. Jakubowiak"s exemplary commitment and leadership within the Consortium. They are a model for other MMRC Member Institutions and a true partner in our efforts to bring patients new effective treatment options," said MMRC Founder and CEO Kathy Giusti.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Phil pointed out that I used the word "stable" in the post below when I probably should have used the term "unchanged." He's right... "stable" gives the impression that the myeloma is under control when really we have no idea what it's doing. With only a few points on a graph it's impossible to know for sure. But since it appears that things are still trending upward since his diagnosis, we are really just waiting to see how his test results will play out in February.

So to correct my earlier post, we aren't out of the woods yet. But we are still relieved that we have a few more months to not have to think about it, which is good news in our books.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

holding pattern

I was asked what a pee-pod is. Karen coined the phrase; I stole it because it sounds a lot cuter than "24-hour urine sample". Here is a picture of the beauty for the next round of tests, being guarded by Ocean's "buddy-fly". (It's empty, of course. I'm not that crass.)

Before I get to today's update, I think it will be helpful if I give a little Multiple Myeloma lesson. Or, as one of Phil's former coaches is infamous for saying, "Let me tell you what I know based on what I know."

One of the key markers of Multiple Myeloma is something called an M-Spike, or M-Protein. The "M" stands for monoclonal. The Monoclonal protein is an antibody that is being overproduced due to a mutation in the gene that produces these antibodies, or immunoglobulins. A normal level is obviously zero. At diagnosis, Phil's M-Spike was 2.2. Last month, it went up to 2.9. Labs were repeated a week later and it fell to 2.7. Today it remained steady at 2.7.

Medical opinions vary on when it is appropriate to begin treatment for many reasons. In Phil's case, he's so young that they don't want to pull out the big guns too early since this could potentially make him resistant to those treatments later on. They were ready to move forward when the M-Spike was creeping up towards 3, but since things have come back down our medical team feels now is not the time to begin treatment since the numbers indicate that the myeloma is currently stable*. Our doctor is comfortable waiting until the end of February to repeat the labs and see what happens then. Since the holidays are upon us and we are trying to sell our house and I'm attempting to go back to school in order to obtain a functional degree and we're failing miserably at potty-training our almost-three-year-old, we're definitely relieved that treatment can wait.

We are feeling all of your prayers. There are no words to express the depth of our appreciation for your friendship and support, and for everyone's continual 'checking in' on us both. This would be an unbearable burden if not for each of you. Love, love, love to all of you. More updates and funny stories to come. But now, I sleep.