Every multiple myeloma patient who has been through a stem cell transplant remembers their new birthday, the day their donor’s precious cells are given to bring immune systems back to life after several grueling rounds of high-dose chemotherapy. Mine is today, January 23rd.
This morning I saw a picture of me from that time. I’ve seen it dozens, maybe hundreds of times, and yet each time I am alarmed by my thin face, my bald head—a reflection of how much my body had just gone through. But I am also struck by the hope I see in my eyes—hope that healthy cells from my identical twin sister, Karen, would give me more time with my two little ones, Nicole and David. Karen had never let me down and that day was no exception—3 months later, I reached a complete remission.
Her gift to me has given me years to raise our family and work tirelessly toward a cure. For that, I am forever grateful.
So it’s particularly startling to now see Karen, who’s been courageously fighting breast cancer since last year, with a thin face, a bald head and the same pretty scarves she now borrows from me. I know that she, too, will win her fight with cancer. Her journey reminds me everyday of the many challenges people with cancer face and just how helpless it feels to be a caregiver. Her journey reminds me every day why we started this foundation together and why neither of us will stop until cures are found.
My birthday wish is that emerging technologies will continue to transform the field of cancer research and that promising new treatment approaches, like immune and targeted therapies, will be in patients’ hands faster than ever imagined. My birthday wish is that every cancer center, every disease can share its information and data so we can build off each others’ discoveries and find solutions together.
But mostly, my birthday wish is to make cancer a thing of the past for the next generation and those to come. We can make that wish a reality if we start curing cancer now.
Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation