Kathryn Giusti’s Bio Before Multiple Myeloma
Kathryn Giusti of “Kathy” was born along with her twin sister Karen in 1958 in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania to a physician father and a nurse mother. She had a fairly ordinary background, spending most of the time with Karen and playing with other children in the suburbs of Blue Bell. One thing that distinguished her, however, from the other kids was her bright nature and exceptional intellect, which was not really that surprising, having a father and mother who both studied medicine.
In the summers, Kathy and Karen would often spend their time working as waitresses at a famous restaurant in Long Beach Island, where they made many friends due to their lively and friendly personalities.
Like most twin siblings, Kathy and Karen were very close to each other. In fact, their close relationship was proven by them studying in the same school from their elementary, high school, and even their college years. They both enrolled at the University of Vermont, where Kathy studied biology and Karen majored in law.
Kathy’s love for biological science enabled her to excel at her studies, and by 1980 she graduated magna cum laude from the university and earned her bachelor’s degree. Karen went on to graduate and work as a lawyer.
After graduating, Kathy applied to a medical school so she could continue her studies (where she was readily accepted), but her father disagreed with this decision, believing that Kathy was ‘too impatient’ to cope with the bureaucracy that prevailed in the medicinal field. Although very disappointed in her father’s opposition, she heeded his advice and went on to work at Merck & Co., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, as a member of the sales team.
Kathy was assigned to work at the West Point site of the company, much to her ‘chagrin’, because it was close to her home in Blue Bell. Kathy soon exhibited her excellence at work and in a matter of two years, was promoted to work at the marketing and communications area of the company.
She was often described by her superiors and workmates as someone with a ‘passionate’ attitude when it comes to work, and made great sales profits due to her amazing ability to promote and sell products. After a few months in the marketing section of Merck & Co., Kathy realized that if she was to become very successful in her position, she had to have a formal background in business education.
Due to this, Kathy entered Harvard Business School to study marketing. Having worked for over three years in the area of sales, Kathy had a fairly easy time in coping with her studies, surprising and delighting her professors for her excellence in studies. She stood at the top of her class and made many connections which she would later on benefit from. It was also during her time here that she met Paul Giusti, a fellow Harvard schoolmate and her future husband.
In 1985, Kathy earned her Master in Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School with high remarks alongside Paul. They then parted ways after Paul went to start a real estate business in the Midwestern section of the United States while Kathy stayed in Boston and applied at Gillette, where she joined the personal care division of the company.
The next five years saw a boost in Kathy’s career as she went from promotion to promotion in the company. It was until 1990 when Kathy decided to leave Gillette to start a new life with her soon-to-be husband.
Kathy met with Paul Giusti again in 1990 and rekindled their relationship. They got married and moved to Chicago, where Kathy temporarily worked for Brach’s, a well-known candy manufacturer based in Oakbrook Terrace.
After some time, in 1993, she joined the company G.D. Searle and participated in the development of new products such as Ambien (a drug used to treat insomnia). Like Gillette, Kathy experienced tremendous growth in G.D. Searle, and was soon promoted the Executive Director of the company’s worldwide arthritis drugs division.
Another remarkable moment for Kathy around this time was the birth of their first child, who they named Nicole. Everything was going smoothly for both Kathy and Paul, who was also experiencing success at every turn. It seemed that everything was going their way, until in 1995 when Kathy received the news that would change her life forever.
Kathy Giusti Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma
In late-1995, Kathy frequently began to easily feel tired even when she had enough sleep, so she went for a physical check-up to see what was wrong. What she heard next totally shocked her and brought her great discouragement: after doing some blood tests on Kathy, the doctors found out that she had multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer that killed tens of thousands of Americans every year alone.
The diagnosis came as a total surprise to Kathy, since she was only thirty seven at that time, and most of the patients suffering from the disease were of a different age group. What made it more discouraging was the fact that there was no type of treatment or cure against the disease.
Kathy’s family was devastated upon hearing the news. Nicole was only two at that time, which greatly worried Kathy because if she died soon enough, she would never have the chance to see her daughter grow up. Her husband Paul was also greatly saddened by the news, but he was determined to stick with her until the end.
Wanting to bring Kathy close to her family, Paul sold his company and moved Kathy and Nicole to New Canaan in Connecticut. Fortunately, the people who bought Paul’s company requested for him to continue to operate as the chief operating officer, while working from New Canaan. This brought a door of opportunity to Paul, who determined that he will need all the funds he can get to help his wife.
Kathy’s burden and plight was eased by the comfort that she received from her family and friends. Day after day, Paul would encourage her to stay strong and believe that they would find a way to pull through that event. He even gave her hope by constantly telling her to expect another child, which enabled Kathy to cope with her situation. Her determination to bear another child did come to pass, and two years later, in 1997, her second child David was born.
Kathy’s Quest for Multiple Myeloma Treatment
Upon hearing of her twin sister’s situation, Karen immediately went to New Canaan to help her sister. They reached out to the medical community to find any assistance they can to combat Kathy’s disease, but were greatly disappointed after finding out that there were no medical research organizations that were focused on studying how to treat or cure multiple myeloma.
Despite this setback, Kathy never backed down from the challenge; she went to every library she could find to learn more about the disease (the Internet was still small at that time), attended every medical meeting that she could find (such as the International Myeloma Workshop) and approached any medical specialist who could help increase her knowledge about what multiple myeloma was all about. Through these experiences Kathy got connected to very important people who she knew would make a lot of difference.
Kathy Giusti Founding the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
With the help of their friends and family members, Kathy and Karen were able to raise four hundred thousand dollars through a fund-raiser organized by the former. In 1998, using the funds they were able to garner, Kathy and Karen founded the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation as a means of improving research on the disease. Compared to most charitable organizations that promoted awareness and raised money for the researchers, the MMRF itself had its own research team, who started from where Kathy left off.
With her background in business management and marketing, Kathy was able to run the organization successfully, and the MMRF grew to become the largest funder of multiple-myeloma research, helping create drugs which would treat or even cure the disease. Most of the drugs are still in the phase two stage of development.
Establishing the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium
For the next six years, Kathy constantly worked with the organization to help not only herself, but a multitude of other people who were suffering from the disease as well. In 2004, Kathy established the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium to promote the collaboration between various cancer centers, and to start a central tissue bank for patients that could be used for further research and encourage a wider engagement between these cancer centers in clinical trials.
Everything started to move forward again, and in spite of her condition, Kathy kept on pushing forward, determined to never let the disease defeat her. However, in 1995, Kathy soon realized that her health was deteriorating. Her busyness from work had caused her body to wear down, and she really needed to take time off her work with the organization to recuperate. After going for tests, she was shocked to see that the damage was more than she thought, and had to completely let go of her work for that time to undergo treatment.
Kathy Giusti, a Role Model for Cancer Patients
Kathy underwent a stem cell transplant at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, with her twin sister Karen donating the cells that was needed. The operation was a success, but Karen was a sorry sight, weighing only ninety pounds and had to be assisted to walk. This brought intense joy to her family however, knowing that Kathy survived the ordeal and was coming home to them. And although it took a few months for Kathy to recover, she never got discouraged, taking her time in getting stronger day by day.
Upon her return to working with the organization, Kathy was more determined as ever. She helped grow the MMRF by approaching numerous clinics and hospitals to participate in the research and clinical trials. As of currently, the organization has raised over two hundred million dollars and has a network of sixteen clinics and hospitals that are working together to help numerous cancer patients in fighting cancer by providing them with treatment and medicine.
Kathy once thought that she would never live to more than a few years, but now, over ten years after her ordeal, she remains strong and devoted to helping people who are going through the same thing that she is, more faithful than ever that if she could make it, so could they.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- MMRF (Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation)
- National Cancer Institute
- MMGI (Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative)
- MMPI (Multiple Myeloma Personalized Medicine Initiative)
- Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium
Awards and Achievements
- 1998: Received the Woman of the Year Award from the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
- 2006: Received the Partners in Progress Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
- 2009: Received the Harvard Business School Award
- 2009: Awarded the Centennial Medal for Distinguished Public Service by the American Association for Cancer Research
- 2011: Included in the World’s 100 Most Influential People by TIME Magazine