2020 has been an unprecedented year in many ways and there have been multiple hardships, but there have also been many positives for me. In April, I celebrated my ten-year anniversary since my multiple myeloma diagnosis, and in August my ten-year “birthday” since my autologous stem cell transplant! When I was diagnosed in 2010, reaching the ten-year mark was not nearly as common as it is today. Since my diagnosis, I have never dwelled upon how long my myeloma journey might be; I’ve just put my energy toward being an informed patient and living life well. Part of living well for me in 2020 resulted from COVID-19 – I’ve been working from home since mid-March. This means no 45-minute morning commute so extra time for my morning walks, sharing my office with my furry goldens, Ruby and Jenny, and having lunch with my husband.
As I prepare for the All-Virtual 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting and Exposition, it brings home how many new treatment options have been approved in the last 10 years and thankfully how many more are on the horizon. One of the most exciting aspects of the current clinical trials is that many involve new mechanisms of action to battle our ever-changing myeloma. This makes these treatments more beneficial for long-term patients that have relapsed on the more traditional therapies and could change the treatment landscape for newly diagnosed patients. The International Myeloma Foundation’s (IMF) ASH team will be covering all the top myeloma abstracts and keeping you updated through our blogs and social media. I know our schedule will be full, but the virtual format will certainly be easier on our feet since we won’t be forced to rush from one presentation to the other in hopes of getting a seat in the ever-popular myeloma sessions. And, we’ll be more rested since we won’t have to be up and on our shuttle at 5:30 a.m.
Since my first ASH in 2013, I’ve been following the advancement of and approval of monoclonal antibodies and I will continue to report on them again this year. I’m especially interested in the combinations they are studying with Darzalex (daratumumab) and its use as a maintenance option, as well as antibody conjugated monoclonal antibodies (ADCs) and bi-specific T-cell engagers (BiTES).
Many thanks to the IMF and the pharmaceutical company sponsors that provide the resources for our team to participate in this year’s conference. I expect my ASH experience will be filled with full days and some information overload, but I can’t wait to learn more and share this with you. Be sure to check out my blogs, tweets on Twitter.
Linda Huguelet, Chattanooga Multiple Myeloma Networking Group