Meet Barry Samson
MMRF Race for Research:
Barry Samson’s journey with multiple myeloma started 10 years ago with vision problems on a ski trip which initially led his doctors to have concerns about a brain tumor. With his usual sense of humor, Barry quipped that he was able to rule out the brain tumor diagnosis himself almost immediately by practicing and successfully telling one of his more complicated jokes.
Barry is an orthopedic surgeon at St. Louis Comprehensive Spine Care. He continues to practice although the peripheral neuropathy from the medications he takes has prevented him from performing operations since 2006. He has taken to sharing the luxury of this extra time with his patients, treating them to quality, unrushed consultations. Barry has also made himself available to talk to other cancer and myeloma patients. Barry explained, “I’m a physician but not an oncologist. Yes, I have kept up with the scientific news but at the end of the day my value is as a patient, and that I have had a lot of experience with the disease itself. I’ve been on so many treatments. There are so many options.”
Barry stresses the importance of avoiding the detrimental effects of negative thinking. It did not take him long to figure out that if he was going to survive any period of time he would need to make peace with the diagnosis and move thoughtfully forward. He has done just that. Barry waited until 2007 for his stem cell transplant, carefully weighing the odds of when new chemotherapy treatments might be available. Barry has also participated in multiple treatment regimens and clinical trials to help move myeloma research forward and he feels strongly that it is a lost opportunity that more cancer patients do not participate in clinical trials. In April 2011 he became one of 200 people in the country on emerging therapy pomalidomide through an MMRC trial with Dr. Ken Anderson of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Barry and Ellie both attribute his 10 years as a multiple myeloma survivor in large part to the MMRF. Barry learned about the MMRF through the late Hamilton Jordan, an MMRF Honorary Board Member and former Presidential Chief of Staff. Barry and Hamilton met at a conference and forged a connection as fellow cancer patients. Since that first introduction, Barry has never stopped thinking about what else he might be able to do to support the MMRF and its mission.
Barry with two-year old granddaughter Natalie
Barry at the 2009 MMRF Investor Summit
Standing are Barry's son Joshua and wife Katie; Seated (L to R): Barry’s brother Max and wife Nancy Samson next to Dr. and Mrs. Ravi Vij at the 2008 MMRF Laugh for Life: St. Louis