Little Rock, Arkansas
This is where Dave and I decided to treat his MM. I really can’t say enough great things about the people of Little Rock, UAMS and MIRT, Staff, Faculty, Physicians, Researchers, Nurses, Aides, RNs, LabRats, APNs, door men, etc. It is a premier place in healthcare from the top down and the bottom up. Whether you are there for Myeloma or something else, the team work and camaraderie displayed in LR is simply unsurpassed.
The treatment, well, that remains controversial. As with many things in life when there isn’t a clear answer and a definitive solution that terminatedly handles something once and for all for most folks, there can be disagreement. Such is the case for Dr. Barlogie and his colleagues in MIRT. If you want to manage your Myeloma vs. trying to lick it, then indeed, LR may not be the place for you. Unless you have no stem cell transplant option, then LR will give you the best maintenance consultation time can buy. But if you are interested in an aggressive approach to your Myeloma with the hopes of being in the still small, but growing group that licks it, LR is absolutely the best place to go. Why? Well if you look on my blog you will find an article I wrote on “Why a Researching Facility vs. a Treating Physician” and perhaps get a different take on why we chose to go to Little Rock for Dave’s treatment.
Is it easy? No
Was it worth it? We think so (Dave’s still recovering)
Is it as “bad” as you may have heard? Not for us
Would you do it again with the new information being published today? Yes
There are some good presentations on the MIRT website. The latest that dramatically turns the tide in treatment success on treating MM is in the 2009 Fall Briefing.
(Newer publication (2010): UAMS Researchers Uncover Differences in High-Risk Myeloma Cases)
I encourage you or your loved ones, to be vigilant, diligent, make the best decision for you, and then do your best to stick with your plan and don’t be too hard on yourself with the difficulties along the way. Its so easy to second guess your decision, but its done. So look forward, and just do the best you can with the information you have, but please do get the information.
I will tell you that the controversial comments physicians and individuals have made to me about Little Rock, thus far, have generally been false, and 100% have had an agenda, heard it from someone else, and have not been there. I’m not saying they save everyone, but no one can claim that. I’m not saying there aren’t some who didn’t have a good experience, but no one can claim 100% satisfaction in healthcare. What I am saying is, scrutinize the chatter and the noise you might hear and ask for data, statistics, and facts to back up their claims. Well, maybe you better not do that, doctors can get incredibly offended. But take note of it, as it may appropriately lessen its “value and weight” as you collect your own data and make your own decisions about YOUR HEALTHCARE! (Personally, I dismissed it as quite useless and one would arguably be correct in saying that it was probably a significant factor in what drove me to Little Rock! Disclaimer: I like Rebels and I’m told I’m genetically predisposed, as my family fought in the American Revolution – so I spawn from a Clan of Rebels!)
Finally, I have spoken to many patients and caregivers who have “heard” about Little Rock and contacted me via email and sometimes later by phone to ask me about Little Rock. Again, everyone of them had fears based on data that can only be described as professionals gossiping (shameful at best), innuendo, rumor, unsubstantiated opinion, professional bias, etc. Often, I am the first person they are talking to who has actually been there and gone through treatment (with Dave). Except for one, all went, and all have thanked me for recommending they at least go for the consultation and all did treat there.
Please feel free to contact me if you are unfortunate enough to find you or your loved one facing this disease. I will be happy to answer any of your questions, honestly and frankly. I am kind and generous and most of all, non-judgemental. I know this is hard, I know you are probably scared. You probably feel pressured to make the PERFECT choice (there isn’t one, except the one you make). Whatever you decide, I am just one step along the way to helping you make the best decision for you and I am more than happy to do that.