Diagnosis & Treatment

Multiple Myeloma
53 years old
Medical Center
City of Hope - Duarte, CA
Amrita Krishnan, MD - Newport Beach, CA
Clinical Trials
Medical Treatment
Stem cell
Details of Treatment
Medication During Treatment
Revlimid, Velcade, Darzalex, Venetoclax, Dex, Pomalyst.
Alternative Therapies During Treatment
A positive way that cancer changed my life is by giving me a sense of purpose in helping other cancer patients
Vitamin D, Vitamin B6
WHAt helped me during treatment
Favorite Quote
My favorite inspirational quote is: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Advice for Others
My best advice is to "start right" by getting an expert in your specific cancer.

My Story

I was diagnosed the day after Christmas completely out of the blue. I had minor back pain, my orthopedic assured me it was likely just “normal aging stuff”, but he wanted an MRI to get a better picture of my back to determine where he should do cortisone injections. What he found instead were lesions up and down my spine! I was told I either had Stage IV colon cancer that had metastasized, spread to my bones, or I had multiple myeloma – a (currently) incurable cancer of the bone marrow.

The next couple of weeks were a roller coaster. There is NEVER a good time to be told “you have cancer” --- but during the week between Christmas and New Years’, when every office was closed on holiday, it was really NOT a good time. Ultimately that delay, however, lead me to do more research and helped me make decisions that likely extended, if not completely saved, my life.

Through my research I learned that City of Hope was a leader, a center of excellence in research and treatment for many types of cancers, including for blood cancers like mine. At the time, the only option for seeing a doctor at City of Hope was in Duarte, 60 miles from my home in Orange County. (Now we have AMAZING City of Hope options here in Orange County!) Thankfully, we made that trek to Duarte, because I was seen by a leading myeloma specialist, who instantly changed the course of treatment that the local oncologist had recommended. The rarer your cancer, the more important it is that you see a specialist. With science as advanced and fast-paced as it is today --- seeing a doctor, or at the very least getting a second option from a doctor, who specializes in your specific cancer is vital to making sure you are getting the latest, leading-edge treatment.

The day after I met with Dr. Amrita Krishnan at City of Hope I started treatment. Within three weeks of that first treatment she was not happy with my numbers and some side effects I was experiencing, and she changed my treatment to a four-drug (quad therapy) regimen. That was February 2018, but it was not until December 2021, nearly three years later, that the quad treatment my doctor put me on was the talk of the hematology association meetings as what oncologist should consider for patients like me. Because I was at a center of excellence, where the trials on quad therapy where being done and they were noticing great success, I had access to that leading-edge science YEARS earlier.

June 28, 2018 I had a stem cell transplant. We refer to that as a “reboot” or system upgrade. I’m now Todd 2.0 – and thankfully, with the help of an extensive continued regimen of maintenance therapy, I am still in remission from that procedure.

When people are diagnosed, they often think “why me?” – my challenge to that is “why not me?!” My particular cancer is one that usually is found in men in their 70s. So, as a young 53-year-old, I could have also asked, “why now?” And to that, I answer, “why not now?” As an active, younger patient I have the advantage of being healthier than many others diagnosed with this disease. I am handling all the treatments with minimal side effects. Together with my wife, I am a strong patient and care partner advocate not only for myself, but for other cancer patients. We lead a virtual support group for Southern California myeloma patients and families that has over 500 members. We coach newly diagnosed patients around the world, and we are doing everything we can to accelerate a cure.

I have cancer, but cancer does not have me. Not only am I intent on beating cancer with my labs and a long life, I’m intent on beating cancer in how I respond to it. If, as cancer survivors, we can take something as bad as cancer and do good with it --- spread hope, fight for a cure, advocate for others, push for changes in healthcare, help make the system work better for patients and care partners --- if we can make good come out of our diagnosis --- we are teaching our kids, our friends and families, and our community  --- that we can make good out of ANYTHING --- even cancer!

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