Patients Remain Driving Force for Physicians at Mass General Cancer Center
Despite the severity of multiple myeloma, Noopur Raje, MD, director of the Center for Myeloma at the Mass General Cancer Center, says she is optimistic about the advancements in treatment and research to find a cure.
“In the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve seen an amazing amount of progress,” she says. “Patients are living a lot longer and a lot better, and that’s largely because of the work which we’ve been able to do in the lab and the new drugs available to our patients.”
“What’s happened over the last several years is access to lots of new drugs,” Dr. Raje continues. “These are not the traditional chemotherapy that we’re used to thinking about for most cancers, but are novel agents or drugs which work with different mechanisms of action. A lot of these are in pill form. It’s really been quite impactful for patients. What has also been crucial is access to cutting edge research like cellular therapy approaches in myeloma as novel targeted ways of treating myeloma, which we are very excited about.”
Dr. Raje’s motivation comes from her patients who are willing to try these new treatments and are responding well to them.
“Patients are absolutely why I do what I do,” she says. “Their resilience and the way they handle whatever we ask of them is truly inspiring. It brings out the best in us and you want to do the best for them.”
But she also finds inspiration from patients she has lost over the years.
“Seeing patients at the end of their road is really tough—it’s the toughest part of my day,” says Dr. Raje. “When you see that, it’s a very humbling experience. But it only strengthens the resolve and makes me go back to the lab and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do better than what we’re doing now.’ Anything I can do to change the natural history of this disease is a driving force. The work we do in the lab, to me, is most meaningful because we can make a difference with that research for people.”
Dr. Raje treats her patients like family, and it shows. “I care deeply for all of my patients; it doesn’t matter who it is,” she says. “The kind of relationship we have… With that implicit trust comes the desire to do your best, and I try to do my best for everybody I come across.”
Through harrowing days at the hospital, long hours in the lab, and creating her own work-life balance, Dr. Raje always falls back on patients as her purpose to keep moving.
“There are days when you say, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to get myself up and want to do this?’” she says. “But then all you have to do is focus on why you started doing this in the first place and it comes right back to my patients. We get to know them over the years, and they’re the ones who make me do what I do. They are our family.”
To learn more about Dr. Raje and what inspires her every single day, visit massgeneral.org/everydayamazing.This is a paid partnership between Mass General Cancer Center and Boston Magazine's City/Studio