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End Stage Multiple Myeloma-What Matters in the End

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End Stage MM- less about living at any/all cost to thinking about what the patient wants, needs at the end-of-life…

I don’t write much about end stage decision-making for multiple myeloma (MM) survivors and caregivers on PeopleBeatingCancer. I’ve always viewed my purpose as a long-term MM survivor and MM Cancer Coach as researching and providing MM therapies that either cure multiple myeloma or heal the side-effects caused by toxic MM therapies.

This excerpt from the book “Being Mortal” is scary “metastatic breast cancer treatment amounts to “an average of $94,000 during the last year of life…” I’ll bet the treatment dollars are even higher for the average MM survivor…

I guess if I’m really honest with myself I don’t want to even think about end-of-life decision-making. According to Susan Grubar in her NYTimes blog below, that would be a mistake.

As a cancer survivor herself, Susan Grubar is able to relate to Dr. Atul Gawande’s book “Being Mortal” in a way few people can. You see, according to Ms. Grubar, cancer patients and caregivers must learn and understand and wrap their brains around end-of-life cancer decisions.  Fortunately for the reader, Dr. Atul Gawande, author of “Being Mortal, is able to present cancer’s end-of-life issues in a fashion that is comprehensible to the reader.

The single most important idea of “Being Mortal,” is one that I’ve confronted repeatedly since PeopleBeatingCancer was launched in 2004. Conventional oncology’s purpose is to keep the multiple myeloma patient/survivor alive…at all costs, both physical and financial. This attitude of treatment at all costs, at all stages might not be the right therapy for the MM survivor.

Multiple myeloma patients, survivors and caregivers must read this book to understand this reality.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • MM Survivor,
  • MM Cancer Coach,
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:


Living With Cancer: Being Mortal

“But too few cancer patients know how useful his book can be for those dealing with the difficult decisions presented by incurable disease. Dr. Gawande has faced this situation with patients and with someone he loved…

From the start of “Being Mortal” to its close, Dr. Gawande highlights the problem of terminal cancer care through poignant case studies that encourage people like me to formulate priorities. He is astute about the financial costs of that care: “25 percent of all Medicare spending is for the 5 percent of patients who are in their final year of life, and most of that money goes for care in their last couple of months that is of little apparent benefit.” And about how the cost pertains to individuals: metastatic breast cancer treatment amounts to “an average of $94,000 during the last year of life…

Though few of us can control our ultimate fate, one of the rare benefits bequeathed by cancer is the opportunity it gives us — albeit in grim circumstances — to author our sense of an appropriate ending, whether or not it occurs the way we imagine it.”

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Cure Your Cancer- "If I knew then what I know now. says 6 years ago

[…] Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End […]

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