September 19, 2017

Myeloma Institute Hosts Patient Power Event on Rare Blood Diseases

Sept. 18, 2017 | UAMS Myeloma Center patients, caregivers and health professionals gathered Sept. 9 at UAMS for Patient Power, a free event offering information about myeloma and other blood-related diseases and the significance of genetic profiling, imaging and getting involved with developing research.

“Living Well with Myeloma” drew a crowd of nearly 100, with another 200 participating through live streaming via the UAMS Myeloma Center’s website. This is the second year that Patient Power, a Seattle-based service founded by Andrew and Esther Schorr that brings information and resources to patients, has brought the event to UAMS.

Former UAMS Myeloma Center physician Guido Tricot, M.D., Ph.D., emeritus professor of medicine with the University of Iowa Health Care, was a featured guest expert, joining Myeloma Center Director Gareth Morgan, M.D., Ph.D.; and UAMS’ Faith Davies, M.D.; Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D.; Brian Walker, Ph.D.; and Kristen Carter, A.P.R.N., for the presentation.

Tricot recently moved back to Arkansas after retiring from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at University of Iowa Health Care. While at UAMS from 2001 to 2007, Tricot and his colleagues pioneered the use of a treatment technique that increased the median survival rate for newly diagnosed patients from 2 ½ years to 10 or more.

Most treatments at the time involved one round of high-dose chemotherapy, which killed not only the patient’s cancerous cells but also healthy ones. To improve upon this, he introduced induction chemotherapy, which uses anti-myeloma drugs before high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant to reduce the tumor burden.

“He is responsible for developing one of the most effective induction regimens for multiple myeloma that’s being used around the world,” Morgan said of Tricot. “The combination chemotherapy approach is really what he is known for; his work formed the basis for one the regimens we still use. It’s well tolerated, gets people into remission quickly and doesn’t damage the stem cells.”

Tricot left UAMS in 2007 to launch the Utah Blood and Marrow Transplant and Myeloma Program at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute as its director. In 2012, he joined the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa Health Care in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Patient Power event included a meet-and-greet session during breakfast followed by a talk-show style formal panel discussion on myeloma treatments, research updates, and the importance of genetic testing and imaging.

Myeloma patient Alan Stephenson of Monroe, La., shared a powerful story of his myeloma diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The 50-year-old financial advisor who experienced the complete fracture of one of his vertebrae before being diagnosed, said that following treatment by Morgan at the Myeloma Center in the spring of 2016 he is now in remission.

Stephenson said he has returned to his previously active lifestyle including most of his outdoor hobbies — hunting, fishing, archery and more — and plans to take back up scuba diving.