Multiple myeloma survivor: Staying positive is a way to give back to others

When Marie Chaplinksy went in for a checkup with her cardiologist in March 2017, she was surprised when she was called back to have her bloodwork done for a second time. Her test results showed that she was very anemic, and her doctor noticed other concerning markers. After the second round of tests, her cardiologist suspected that she had cancer and referred her to MD Anderson. Marie, now 71, set up an appointment at MD Anderson West Houston, which was much closer to her home in Katy than the Texas Medical Center location. After additional testing, she learned that she had stage I multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She was also considered high-risk due to the results of her bone marrow aspiration, which was done during her diagnostic testing. Approximately 15% of patients with multiple myeloma are considered to have high-risk disease, which is associated with a shorter remission and an earlier risk of relapse. The diagnosis came as a shock to Marie, who didn’t show any symptoms. Multiple myeloma patients may experience bone lesions or kidney issues as the disease progresses. “I was encouraged by my team’s knowledge and expertise. They shared with me that while there was no cure for multiple myeloma, they had instances of patients still living after 17 years,” says Marie. “I wanted to be one of those people.” Multiple myeloma treatment closer to home In May 2017, Marie’s doctors prescribed chemotherapy, which would be followed by a stem cell transplant. The chemotherapy treatments lasted for four months and included a combination of kyprolis, revlimid and dexamethasone. While Marie did not...

Multiple myeloma survivor: Staying positive is a way to give back to others

When Marie Chaplinksy went in for a checkup with her cardiologist in March 2017, she was surprised when she was called back to have her bloodwork done for a second time. Her test results showed that she was very anemic, and her doctor noticed other concerning markers. After the second round of tests, her cardiologist suspected that she had cancer and referred her to MD Anderson. Marie, now 71, set up an appointment at MD Anderson West Houston, which was much closer to her home in Katy than the Texas Medical Center location. After additional testing, she learned that she had stage I multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She was also considered high-risk due to the results of her bone marrow aspiration, which was done during her diagnostic testing. Approximately 15% of patients with multiple myeloma are considered to have high-risk disease, which is associated with a shorter remission and an earlier risk of relapse. The diagnosis came as a shock to Marie, who didn’t show any symptoms. Multiple myeloma patients may experience bone lesions or kidney issues as the disease progresses. “I was encouraged by my team’s knowledge and expertise. They shared with me that while there was no cure for multiple myeloma, they had instances of patients still living after 17 years,” says Marie. “I wanted to be one of those people.” Multiple myeloma treatment closer to home In May 2017, Marie’s doctors prescribed chemotherapy, which would be followed by a stem cell transplant. The chemotherapy treatments lasted for four months and included a combination of kyprolis, revlimid and dexamethasone. While Marie did not...

Why I’m committed to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, my personal life involved a lot of socializing. I’d travel at least twice a month — sometimes for work, but usually for pleasure. I’d visit with family members who live around the country, and go out to eat with friends at least a couple of nights a week here in Houston. I'm also a huge fan of the theater, and I spent a lot of time in our parks and other public spaces. Like many other people, I also enjoyed many “nonessential” services, such as haircuts and pedicures. But since the coronavirus pandemic started, I've taken social distancing to heart. How I’m putting social distancing into practice Social distancing means, whenever possible, maintaining a six-foot distance from people who are not part of our household. When that's not possible, it means wearing a mask. And in places where crowding is unavoidable, that means removing ourselves from those situations, or choosing not to engage in certain activities to begin with. For me, social distancing has meant I have not traveled outside of Houston since before the pandemic. I have not entered a restaurant. Visits with friends have taken place on the front porch only, while maintaining more than 6 feet of distance. I have not engaged in any non-essential activities, either, including salon visits and retail shopping. I have used remote methods as much as possible for all essential activities, like curbside pickup for groceries and drive-through pickup for prescriptions. I have worked mostly from home, so I can help limit the traffic on MD Anderson’s campuses and keep our staff and patients safe. And...

Why I’m committed to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, my personal life involved a lot of socializing. I’d travel at least twice a month — sometimes for work, but usually for pleasure. I’d visit with family members who live around the country, and go out to eat with friends at least a couple of nights a week here in Houston. I'm also a huge fan of the theater, and I spent a lot of time in our parks and other public spaces. Like many other people, I also enjoyed many “nonessential” services, such as haircuts and pedicures. But since the coronavirus pandemic started, I've taken social distancing to heart. How I’m putting social distancing into practice Social distancing means, whenever possible, maintaining a six-foot distance from people who are not part of our household. When that's not possible, it means wearing a mask. And in places where crowding is unavoidable, that means removing ourselves from those situations, or choosing not to engage in certain activities to begin with. For me, social distancing has meant I have not traveled outside of Houston since before the pandemic. I have not entered a restaurant. Visits with friends have taken place on the front porch only, while maintaining more than 6 feet of distance. I have not engaged in any non-essential activities, either, including salon visits and retail shopping. I have used remote methods as much as possible for all essential activities, like curbside pickup for groceries and drive-through pickup for prescriptions. I have worked mostly from home, so I can help limit the traffic on MD Anderson’s campuses and keep our staff and patients safe. And...

Pediatric stem cell transplants: What to know

When chemotherapy alone isn’t successful in treating blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma in pediatric patients, a stem cell transplant may be an option. They can also help treat some non-cancerous bone marrow diseases, like sickle cell disease, thalassemia, severe aplastic anemia and Kostmann syndrome. To learn about pediatric stem cell transplants and what parents should know, we spoke with Priti Tewari, M.D. What is a stem cell transplant? Stem cells are produced in our bone marrow; they mature to become our red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and the cells of our immune system. Stem cell transplants replace damaged or defective stem cells with healthy cells. They can also help replace a weakened immune system. There are two types: Autologous stem cell transplants use a patient’s own stem cells to help fight cancers like high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, medulloblastoma and neuroblastoma. These cancers may require high doses of chemotherapy. Autologous transplants use patients’ own healthy stem cells to help with recovery. Allogeneic transplants replace patients’ stem cells with healthy cells from a donor. Are stem cells transplants safe for kids? Stem cell transplants come with risks, but they can be an option for patients as young as only a couple months old. With some non-cancerous diseases like severe combined immunodeficiency, the transplant should take place as soon as possible. Pediatric patients with this condition often have weaker immune systems and are at greater risk for infection. With some inherited disorders, we may watch your child for a few years and allow the organs to mature a little bit before moving ahead with a stem cell transplant....