Kootenai | Kootenai Health | Issue 1, 2024

leukemia (CLL), a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. CLL typically progresses slowly, and Jerry had lived with it relatively trouble-free for 11 years. The multiple myeloma was different. Jerry received several rounds of cancer treatment, including a medication called Revlimid, a medication his oncologist at the time described as the gold standard for multiple myeloma. Unfortunately, Jerry’s cancer was so aggressive, each of his treatments only brought the cancer under control for a very short time. It kept coming back. “If the gold standard doesn’t work, then what?” Jerry asked. New and powerful treatment Jerry and Annie decided to seek a second opinion from medical oncologist Kevin Mulvey, M.D., at Kootenai Clinic Cancer Services. After researching Jerry’s diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Mulvey suggested he might be a candidate for a new treatment. Because Dr. Mulvey was scheduled to retire soon after Jerry’s initial visit, he transitioned his care to his colleague at Kootenai Clinic Cancer Services, medical oncologist Paul White, M.D. In Jerry’s case, he needed an aggressive treatment quickly. One option, a bone marrow transplant, is aggressive and effective, but Dr. White knew that could take months to arrange. Instead, he recommended a brand-new medication, teclistamab, which was only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2022. It works by binding the myeloma cell directly to a white blood cell, which will then destroy the cancer cell. “Teclistamab is one of a growing class of medications called BiTE antibodies,” said Dr. White. “They have tremendous promise in treating multiple myeloma, lymphomas and leukemia. In some cases, they are as effective as a bone marrow transplant. We are excited to be able to offer them for our patients here, rather than sending them to large, academic hospitals far away.” In order to give the medication, Dr. White and the chemotherapy nurses received special training to manage the drug’s unique side effects. “I had to receive a shot of the teclistamab as an outpatient and then go to the Hospitality Center and stay overnight while Annie watched me,” Jerry said. “The next day, we would check into the hospital for overnight observation. We did that three times in a row.” He completed the initial treatment in May. The gift of a future As of September 2023, Jerry is doing well and getting stronger. He and Annie joke that he went from being an “animal” to being a “puppy,” but their lighthearted laughter reveals their hope. “We can’t say enough good things about Kootenai Health and the Sandpoint cancer center,” said Annie. “We are making plans for our future again.” “There are still a lot of unknowns,” Jerry added. “But there are unknowns in everyone’s life. It’s all about not giving up.” Reason for hope Read more about what Kootenai Clinic Cancer Services has to offer— visit KH.org/cancer. Kevin Mulvey, M.D. Paul White, M.D. Jerry Swanson was working on pouring concrete by hand for the base of this windmill when severe pain brought him to Kootenai Health. KH.ORG 9