Elizabeth (Betsy) O’Donnell
Elizabeth (Betsy) O’Donnell

Steps on a Mountain, Steps for Multiple Myeloma Research
Tuesday, January 24
Working in clinical research for multiple myeloma has been an extraordinary privilege. Over the past decade, we have witnessed a revolution in how we treat this disease. Each year, we have benefitted from new and better drug therapies. All of this progress has been made through clinical trials and translational research from solid basic science exploration into the biology of myeloma and preclinical studies to see how new drugs affect the disease.
 
The critical link for me in being a researcher is seeing patients in clinic. All doctors want the best for the patients and to be able to solve their problems. Though myeloma largely remains an incurable illness, being part of the research to better our therapies and find a cure is empowering and drives me to be the best doctor that I can be.
 
Research is not possible without funding and support. Having the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is a fantastic way to raise awareness for our disease and support an organization that does so much good for our patients. The future of myeloma is extremely bright, but it will require teamwork, dedication, and a willingness to work hard and persevere against challenging obstacles.  Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro beside patients, family members, and other supporters truly exemplifies the spirit of teamwork and shared commitment that is needed to conquer this disease.
Proving the Power of Physical Fitness
Friday, December 02
Exercise has always played a central role in my life and is a great passion for me. I played field hockey and lacrosse throughout college and pursued the sport of triathlon as my full-time job after college. I continue to be very active riding 40 miles round-trip to work every day for nine months out of the year and just started bike racing again. I love being outdoors and am up for pretty much any adventure.
 
While exercise is a passion for me, it is also something that I see as important to my wellness. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise plus two strength workouts each week. Further, the American Cancer Society recommends that cancer patients strive to meet these recommendations as well. We have good evidence to support the role of exercise in cancer care.
 
Cancer patients are vulnerable to loss of physical function and changes in quality of life and mood as a result of treatment for their disease. As novel treatments help patients to live longer, attention to improving fitness, function, and quality of life has become paramount. Exercise during and after cancer treatment not only improves physical function and quality of life parameters but has been linked to improved tolerance of systemic therapy, medication adherence, disease-free and overall survival.
 
In addition to my role as a multiple myeloma clinical researcher, I have a clinic devoted to Lifestyle Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital that focuses on exercise and weight management. Through this clinic, I am able to combine my passions for both exercise and oncology. The goal of this clinic is to give patients the tools to maintain or restore physical function and wellness before, during, and after cancer treatment.
 
When asked to join the MMRF climb of Mt Kilimanjaro, my answer was a no-brainer. I couldn’t think of a better way for me to express my passions for myeloma treatment and help raise awareness of the disease and support for research as we seek better and curative treatments for our disease.
 
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