On behalf of the thousands of people fighting multiple myeloma around the world, the MMRF thanks Tom Brokaw for stepping forward to eloquently share the story of his personal battle with multiple myeloma. This episode of Dateline sheds light on the second most common blood cancer that the MMRF is working quickly and efficiently to cure, making discoveries along the way that can help all cancer patients.WATCH THE DATELINE EPISODE ONLINE
Special Correspondent, NBC News
NBC Nightly News anchor and bestselling author of The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw has led a fortunate life with a strong marriage and family, many friends, and a brilliant journalism career. But in 2013, back pain led him to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, and his run of good luck was interrupted. He received shocking news: He had multiple myeloma, a treatable, but incurable blood cancer.
Approaching his treatment with a thirst for knowledge and the tenacity of a journalist, Brokaw began to keep a journal, determined to learn as much as he could about his condition, to report the story, and help others facing similar battles.
Brokaw’s journal of his ensuing battle with multiple myeloma became the basis of this memoir, the story of a man coming to terms with his own mortality, contemplating what means the most to him now, and reflecting on what has meant the most to him throughout his life. Brokaw also writes about the importance of patients taking an active role in their own treatment, and of the vital role of caretakers and coordinated care.
The type of cancer that Tom Brokaw has is multiple myeloma, the second most common blood cancer. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells in bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that help maintain the body’s immune system. In multiple myeloma, these plasma cells become malignant and accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out the healthy blood cells. Additionally, the malignant myeloma cells produce abnormal proteins that cause tumors and damage the body. In 2015, there will be an estimated 26,850 new myeloma cases diagnosed.1
While there is still a way to go in finding a cure for multiple myeloma, industry, academia and organizations like the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)—a non-profit research organization that focuses on accelerating drug development for multiple myeloma—are working together like never before to transform the treatment landscape for patients.
Profound advances in research, an explosion of information and data and increased collaboration are improving treatment of multiple myeloma. Since 2003, the FDA has approved seven treatments for multiple myeloma and there are currently three multiple myeloma treatments under FDA review and 27 treatments in Phase 3 development. The five-year survival rate for multiple myeloma has increased by 60 percent and the expected lifespan has tripled from just 20 years ago.
By cutting red tape and eliminating bureaucracy, the MMRF is speeding the development of new treatments and cures. The MMRF has had more success than any other cancer-fighting organization, and your support can help us move potential treatments from laboratory shelves into the hands of patients like Tom and thousands of others.
1American Cancer Society, 2015 Cancer Facts & Figures Report