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How Does Daily Exercise Impact Transplant Candidacy?

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Published on November 17, 2017

Can being physically fit sway a healthcare committee to change their vote for a transplant? Find out from Jim Bond’s story of survival how exercise can influence transplant candidacy. He also shares his experience participating in clinical trials.

The Living Well With Myeloma series is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene, Takeda, Amgen and AbbVie for their support.


Transcript | How Does Daily Exercise Impact Transplant Candidacy?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Jim, you are so remarkable, living with myeloma 25 years before transplant. 

Now, I'm told that when it came up that maybe you needed a fourth transplant your doctors were worried could you survive it?  I understand there was some thinking that maybe because you were in shape that that's why you are with us now.  But let's get your take on that. 

Jim Bond:

Yeah, that's exactly correct.  I just want to make one statement.  Yes, I've had four transplants, and, yes, they've helped me stay alive, but after my third transplant, and they've all been done here in Cleveland, Ohio, after my third transplant, the transplant I got my sister's bone marrow, but the cancer was too strong.  It overtook my body, and I was actually told, Jim, you're all done.  None of the drugs that are out today—there was no bortezomib (Velcade) and other drugs.  Those were not yet approved.  So I was told go to a hospice.  You're done.  This was after transplant three.  So it's not just transplants that are the key to my story. 

My wife and I were lucky enough to get into a clinical trial.  We had to leave town, leave our home in Cleveland, Ohio, and go to Dana-Farber in Boston, Mass, and I entered an experimental drug trial. And I went from getting ready to die to being back up on my feet and in complete remission, and that process of improving started within two weeks of this experimental molecule that today is known as Velcade.  And I've been told by the people who make Velcade that my results were instrumental in getting the drug approved. 

And so I want to encourage everybody, while I've got this opportunity, to think about a clinical trial, because let's say I had died.  Let's say I had died.  How much better I would have felt knowing that, hey, I didn't go for nothing.  Someone's going to benefit down the road. 

And now that I've lived through it, think how good I feel and my family feels not only that I'm around but that other people are benefitting from this clinical trial.  So think about the clinical trials. 

But here's the story on transplant number four: I'm doing okay on myeloma.  It's in remission.  I'm at year 20 of my survival of a stage III multiple myeloma, which is unbelievable.  I never would have thought true.  And my doctor says, Jim, bad news.  You have leukemia.  It's worse than that.  It's treatment-related leukemia, which means the only way we can keep you alive is if we can find a match and do a fourth transplant.  I said, good, let's do it. 

So they get me ready in the hospital, they find a match, I'm all excited.  I say when.  They say we don't think we can do it.  We think you're going to not live through a fourth transplant.  You're 64 years old, at the time.  Your bone marrow has been compromised, you know.  You've been fighting another disease, our committee doesn't think you're a good risk.  So I pleaded my case.  They came back, and here's what they said: 

They said, Jim, the people who were voting against you changed their mind when we told them that two months earlier you completed yet another year of your 328-mile American Cancer Society Pan Ohio Hope ride.  So the American Cancer Society Pan Ohio Hope ride actually saved my life, because it changed the no votes on the committee to yes.  I got the German woman's stem cells on Halloween.  By Christmas of 2012 I'm back home, in remission on both—remain in remission on myeloma and in remission now on leukemia as well.  And that's where I remain today. 

So without that exercise of doing the bike ride I would have died, clearly, and my transplant doctor, a great guy at the Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio, he said, Jim, I want to tell you, you would not have made it through this fourth transplant if you hadn't made yourself get out of bed every single day, even on days when you didn't feel like it.  And I knew you wouldn't feel like—didn't feel like it. 

You made yourself get up and walk around.  And he said if we had more of our patients do that, we'd have more patients recovering quickly.  And, Melanie, that's exactly the program that they've adopted now following many of the things that you said earlier.  And Kathleen and I were invited to participate in recommendations for this new building, new cancer transplant unit.  We recommended and they put in an exercise room on the transplant floor including a treadmill and stationary bike.  So I'm a huge proponent of exercise.  It's one of seven reasons I believe that I'm alive today, and I really appreciate being here and sharing this.  Thank you. 

Andrew Schorr:

What a great story, and what a great story about trials.  I believe that.  I've been in trials, and we're all nodding our head together.  Another series we do called Clinical Trial MythBusters to try to help people feel comfortable with the idea of a trial.  But thank you for being a pioneer.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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