Newsletter: Winter 2022

I hope that you are all keeping as well as possible with all these viruses circulating at the moment.

I see from some comments on the Facebook page that some of you have used Paxlovid at the onset of Covid symptoms and found this intervention helpful.

It is a challenging time for myeloma patients and in particular, those who are waiting for a time or place to have their stem cell transplants post the induction therapy.

The health system is under a lot of stress and some patients have experienced several delays.

There was a high-level meeting at the health department recently on the topic of stem cell transplants and a number of ideas to improve things were aired.

I personally think that some centres need to be able to offer the patients auto transplants to take some of the pressure off centres like Auckland hospital and Christchurch. I have been saying for some years now that Dunedin should be offering autos. It is patently ridiculous that a patient from Te Anau has to travel all the way to Christchurch for their auto.North Shore is the largest DHB in New Zealand and should have funding to increase their in-patient capacity and also to offer auto transplants. We seem to lack managers with vision to set up these sorts of initiatives which are unlikely to happen in the short term.

We had the International Summit Myeloma meeting in Queenstown two weeks ago but high winds in Queenstown caused huge disruption. We were pleased that our U.S.A and Australian speakers were able to fly in, but myself and Henry Chan, who were the meeting convenors could not make it down. It turned into a hybrid meeting with 30 in the actual lecture room and about 24 on zoom. The meeting feed-back was very positive and our keynote speaker, who was Professor Joseph Mikhael from City of Hope Cancer Centre in Duarte, California, managed to give three great talks.

I tried to get some media organised for him, but they did not show much interest and so a good opportunity was lost.

I hope that we can eventually organise a national patient forum and we started to get this under way last year but Covid made it too challenging.

This will be my last newsletter as I am stepping down from my role as CEO of the organisation but hope to still follow the activity of the board and Henry Chan will take up the role of Medical Advisor and has a lot of good ideas.

It has been a privilege to have been associated with Myeloma New Zealand over the last seven years and I know that we have made a difference to patients living with this blood cancer.

That is enough from me, and I hope that we can look forward to some Spring weather.

Our thoughts go out to the people of Nelson as they deal with horrendous flooding.

Nga mihi

Kind regards

Ken Romeril