70-year-old cancer patient doesn’t just run marathons… he wins them, thanks to new miracle drug.
A 70-year-old cancer patient, who was given just 5 years live after being diagnosed with myeloma, is 8 years later still running marathons – and winning them – thanks to a miracle drug called pomalidomide.
Don Wright had competed in his first marathon just two weeks prior to his devastating diagnosis. But thanks to the new wonder drug, he continues to run marathons together with his wife and daughter – who run half marathons while he goes the distance.
In total he’s run sixty-one 26-mile races in 41 states; his ultimate goal to run a marathon in every state.
Pomalidomide is an immunomodulating agent (similar to thalidomide that caused birth defects in the 60s) and works by altering the pathways of the cancer cells to keep the disease at bay.
Wright takes just one pill a day, a drastic difference from the hard-hitting doses of chemotherapy and radiation that were the standard treatments for myeloma 10 years ago.
The drug is one of several emerging therapies that are still in clinical trials. However cases like Wright’s have doctors amazed. Dr. Brian Durie, the co-founder and chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation, says “its mind boggling, for God’s sake. It’s amazing.”
He likens the treatment to taking insulin for diabetes, or statin for high cholesterol; it doesn’t cure the condition, but it does make it more manageable. For cancer patients, a lifetime of taking one pill per day or months of hair loss and severe nausea is a no-brainer.
Most newly diagnosed patients are now offered trails of one of these drugs, since they can be extremely effective. Unfortunately the results aren’t the same for everyone. And that’s where the focus of the study now lies – to find which patients respond best to the drug.
- Kristen Philipkoski: A Miracle Drug Keeps This 70-Year-Old Cancer Patient Running Marathons. Gizmodo, 12/14/2011.