The path in oncology for Mohamed Zaki, M.D., Ph.D., is one filled with emotional ups and downs. Some of the most memorable moments come from his interactions with multiple myeloma patients.
“One patient was ready to retire to a new family home. She started feeling a little pain in her bones,” recalls Zaki, global head of hematology development, AbbVie. “Her doctor eventually told her she had a blood cancer that may be untreatable, but I tried several options for her. We met five years after her diagnosis, and I’ll never forget how she got up and gave me a hug after I explained my work in pharmaceutical research and development.”
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are found in the bone marrow. Cells in the bone marrow play an essential role in the immune system.
“At first, some people show no symptoms or just very mild symptoms,” says Zaki. “Some people with multiple myeloma can’t walk normally. In many instances, they’re constantly in pain. Then because of the disease, they could have infections. I’ve seen fractures because the cancer actually puts holes in the bone.”
Here, Zaki shares his journey working with patients diagnosed with this complicated cancer and explains the continued need for options for relapsing and high-risk patients.