The Power of Self-Advocacy in Multiple Myeloma

Published on: May 21, 2024
Thomas, living with multiple myeloma, sits next to his doctor, Dr. Cristina Gasparetto, both smiling at the audience
Thomas, living with multiple myeloma, and his doctor, Dr. Cristina Gasparetto

Thomas, a Virginia native, was not someone frequently plagued by random aches and pains. As a lifelong athlete he always prioritized his physical health, leading him to spend much of his free time on the basketball court or the baseball field. But, when he began experiencing shoulder pain, he knew something wasn’t right. Following a series of appointments and various misdiagnoses, he saw a specialist and learned the true cause of his pain. Thomas was diagnosed with multiple myeloma at the age of 34.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the blood diagnosed in more than 35,000 Americans each year.Significant progress has been made in the treatment of this blood cancer over the last decade, but people living with multiple myeloma still often experience delays in diagnosis that can impact treatment outcomes.

Facing a diagnosis of a cancer he knew little about, Thomas spent his time learning more about what this disease might mean for his life. He found a myeloma specialist, Dr. Cristina Gasparetto, who helped him understand his treatment options and the day-to-day impact multiple myeloma could have.

Dr. Gasparetto played a pivotal role in Thomas' care, so much so that Thomas relocated from Virginia to North Carolina so he could remain her patient. Together, they formed a personalized treatment plan, giving Thomas the necessary space to ask questions about his care. They built a unique rapport over his treatment journey, to the extent that Dr. Gasparetto inspired Thomas to pursue cycling as a new hobby. Later this year the two will be traveling to Iceland together to participate in a fundraising ride that advocates for people living with multiple myeloma.

Their partnership exemplifies the importance of the patient-provider relationship, built through shared decision making and information exchange. Dr. Gasparetto's commitment to tailoring Thomas’ care to his individual needs further emphasizes the importance that a personalized care plan holds in managing complex diseases like multiple myeloma.

Thomas’ passion for spending time with family, playing sports and traveling drove his determination to incorporate these things into his “new normal” life with multiple myeloma. Working closely with Dr. Gasparetto, Thomas found ways to adjust his lifestyle based on his unique needs.

Thomas, living with multiple myeloma, sits next to his doctor, Dr. Cristina Gasparetto, while holding up a picture of the two of them in a magazine

Thomas, diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and myeloma specialist, Dr. Cristina Gasparetto speak about his journey with multiple myeloma

Through his cancer journey, Thomas has become an advocate for the multiple myeloma community. His advocacy work ranges from initiating support groups to participating in panels and ambassador programs. His lived experience demonstrates the power that community support can have for people navigating the challenges of living with multiple myeloma. Thomas' dedication to self-advocacy and education continues to inspire all who hear his story. When speaking about his experience, he emphasizes the importance of understanding one's disease and encourages others facing a multiple myeloma diagnosis to do the same, stating, “I would say learn your myeloma, for one, and don't be afraid to advocate for yourself.” Thomas’ proactive approach to learning about his condition and treatment options has been instrumental in his care journey, enabling him to make informed decisions about his care.

Thomas’ story is a testament to the importance of self-advocacy, patient-provider relationships, and community support when managing multiple myeloma. His experience offers hope to others impacted by this disease and inspires Sanofi’s commitment to continue advancing patient-centric research for this difficult-to-treat cancer.


  1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Stat Facts. Myeloma. Accessed April 2024.