The Lamberts work together on a baking project in their Philadelphia home. From left are Nadia, Ethan, Ava and Gary.
entire spectrum of treatment for relapsed or refrac-
tory multiple myeloma.”
New drugs—called immunomodulators because
they alter the immune system’s response to cancer
cells—have increased life expectancy for some mul-
tiple myeloma patients by helping to keep the disease
in remission longer. Revlimid—the drug Lambert
took for treatment and as maintenance therapy—is
an immunomodulator. It also works by cutting off the
blood supply that myeloma cells need to grow.
Experimental treatments, including CAR-T cell
therapy—which uses a patient’s own modified
immune cells to treat cancer—are showing promise
in early clinical trials, says Rai. (See “A New Multiple
Myeloma Treatment on the Horizon” on pg. 35.)
“The progress in the last seven to 10 years has been
extraordinary. With new treatments likely to surface
in the next couple of years, people with multiple
myeloma have good reason to hope and remain optimistic,” he says.
A NEW DEVELOPMENT
In October 2017, Lambert got some bad news—the
myeloma cells were growing again. He started a new
drug regimen that includes a different immunomodu-latory drug—Darzalex (daratumumab)—which was
approved in 2015 for use in patients with multiple
myeloma that doesn’t respond to or becomes resistant
to standard treatments. The new drug helped to bring
his myeloma cell levels back down.
The news hit him hard. “As much as you prepare for
things, when it happens, it can throw you off guard,”
says Lambert. He is exploring clinical trials for CAR-T
“My doctor and I think it will give me the best shot
at long-term remission,” says Lambert. Yet applying for
a clinical trial is a bit like applying for college, he says.
“Trials have strict criteria for candidates they think will
really test the effectiveness of the drug.”
His backup plan? Another stem cell transplant—this
time using donor bone marrow cells instead of his own.
Either option is sure to be physically draining. To keep
his body strong, he continues to exercise several times a
week—hiking nature trails, riding his bike or practicing
“It’s obvious to anyone who knows Gary that he wants
to be as healthy as possible for his wife and kids,” says
co-worker Michael Gagliardi. “Despite all he’s been
through, he stays positive. He just puts his head down
and works. You have to respect a guy like that.”
Yet Lambert admits that staying positive isn’t always
easy. “There are days when I just feel really, really sick
and tired, and it’s a struggle mentally to get out of bed,”
he says. “But somehow, I manage. I keep going.”
His goal isn’t to inspire. “I just want to be with my
family. I want my kids to know their dad is going to be
there for them.”
LINDSE Y KONKEL is a science journalist living in Haddon
Township, New Jersey.