A serious runner all of his life, Jerry Mallams had never run a marathon. Two years after receiving two blood stem cell transplants for his multiple myeloma at M. D. Anderson, the 34-year-old Spring Hill, Fla., man felt like it might be time to try.
"I asked Dr. Qazilbash and he said 'If you feel like you can, do it. Just listen to your body,'" Mallams said.
On Nov. 15, Mallams completed the San Antonio marathon in three hours and 23 minutes, which was good for 306th place out of 4,070 male runners and 343rd overall.
"I ran cross country in college and have always loved running," Mallams said. "In fact, I found out about my multiple myeloma because I fractured a vertebrae while I was running."
Multiple myeloma is caused by abnormal plasma cells, a type of white blood cell, that multiply rapidly in the bone marrow, interfering with normal blood production. As the cells accumulate in the marrow, they can weaken bones, leading to fractures mainly of the ribs and backbone.
A disease with few treatment options six years ago, there are four drugs approved for multiple myeloma and many more in the pipeline. Patients are surviving much longer.
Dr. Muzaffar Qazilbash, M.D., an associate professor of stem cell transplantation at M. D. Anderson, said Mallams was treated in a clinical trial for "tandem transplants." In July and November of 2006, he received transplants of his own blood stem cells. In each case, heavy chemotherapy knocked out his blood supply first to permit the transplant.
"This trial, and a few others, asks whether a second autologous transplant within six months of the first will increase complete remission, time to progression and overall survival," Qazilbash said. "There's preliminary data supporting this approach. The results of this particular trial are expected to come out in the next year or so."
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