Jim Bond: The Role Exercise Played in My 26-Year Survival of Myeloma

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Meet Jim Bond, a 26-year multiple myeloma survivor who says that exercise is “one of the key reasons that I’m alive today.” Jim shares his exercise journey and explains how cycling regularly and participation in The American Cancer Society Pan Ohio Hope Ride made a critical difference in his course of treatment. Watch now to find out more.

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Andrew Schorr:

So, Jim, you've been through a transplant. You've been 26 some-odd years, you're riding a bike, you've been in and out of hospitals, and have had your highs and lows. First of all, about exercise—Jim Bond, what would you say to people about the benefit of exercise when you have this diagnosis?

Jim Bond:                    

I’d say it’s one of the key reasons that I’m alive today. And Alex, I agreed with everything you said. And I’d just like to add a couple of personal notes on my diet. I have gone through four stem cell transplants and what I made myself do is get out of bed starting with the first one. 

And it was hard because I was knocked down with the drugs they gave me, but I found that by getting out of bed, and then when I was able to take a few steps and then walking around the floor pulling my IV behind me, it gave me—it would tire me out, keep me from sleeping in the afternoon, and it actually helped stimulate my appetite. 

So, I would recommend that you try that as much as you can. If you can’t get out of bed yet, I made myself sit up in the bed as long as I could. And that sounds trivial but at times it was not trivial.  

Alexa, my wife Kathleen, who’s my caregiver, she found a high-calorie, high-protein drink that she brought in. and I found different flavors worked for me. Orange was my favorite but that was to me, is what was key. I found what appealed to me foodwise and I just ate as much of that as I could. I didn’t worry too much about three food groups, I was too sick.

Alexa Welch:              


Jim Bond:                    

But when I found something that worked for me, I would do it, I would also order all three of my meals when I woke up in the morning. And when they arrived that gave me the motivation to, okay, try something. If I put off ordering then I might not even have the desire to order, so that was a little bit helpful for me. 

But exercise has been key throughout my battle with cancers. In fact, exercise saved my life, as you referred to earlier. I was 64 years old. I had lived with myeloma successfully for, I don’t know, many years and then I got leukemia, and it was kind of the leukemia that’s treatment-related and they said, “Hey, Jim, the only way you can live is by getting yet another transplant.”

So, they threw me in the hospital for what turned out to be three months solid. They got my leukemia down, they found a match on the matching database. They came in my room and I was thrilled. I said, “Great, when do I get the stem cells?” And they said, “Well, we're not sure you can live through another transplant,” and I said, “But that's the only way I can live.” And he said, “But we can't kill you.” 

So, I pleaded my case. They came back and they said, “Jim, the doctors who are voting against you on our committee, they changed their mind and voted yes when they heard that two months ago you cycled 328 miles, four days in The American Cancer Society Pan Ohio Hope Ride a month ago.” 

So, the exercise of not only training and riding on the bike, but just every day doing something, that saved my life because they were not going to give me that, it turned out to be a German woman’s stem cells. They said I was not a good risk until they heard what exercise did for me. And that’s really been true all through this thing. 

By exercising, doing something every day, I think it made my body able to take more and more treatments, because as we know, today myeloma is still not curable. So when it comes back I want to be as strong as I can to make myself tolerate another one. 

Now, each day what I think of is my mantra, is to be on my feet not on my seat. And right now, I’m standing up, talking to you because I think even standing is better than sitting. And Melanie’s great guidance at a seminar that we were at helped me understand that walking is really good for us and standing is better than sitting. Sometimes it’s hard but I make myself do that.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on January 22, 2019