Kathy’s Story

“I will never forget the doctor looking at me and saying, ‘I’m sorry, you have cancer.’ And not just any cancer, one of the lousy ones with a weird name and no effective treatments. Three years to live. Incurable. No grey.”  

— Kathy Giusti

For Kathy Giusti, what began as a 3-year death sentence turned into a 25-year crusade to not only save her own life but disrupt and galvanize a deeply broken healthcare system. Her efforts have helped transform care for millions facing a fatal diagnosis.

As Founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), Kathy’s work led to 15 new FDA-approved drugs and increased life expectancy for patients from the three years when she was diagnosed to ten years today. As Co-Chair of the Harvard Business School (HBS) Kraft Accelerator, Kathy convened more than 300 thinkers, doers, and disruptors from across the healthcare ecosystem to create the Playbook for Cures, a guide for organizations across all disease states to accelerate cures.

Kathy has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, was ranked #19 on Fortune’s list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fast Company, and on the Today Show, Bloomberg, and CNN. She was  appointed by President Bush to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), by President Obama to the Precision Medicine Initiative Working Group and served as an advisor to the Biden Moonshot program. She is highly published with articles in the Harvard Business ReviewTime, Forbes, STAT, and Nature.  

But above all, Kathy knows what it means to succeed as a patient in a broken healthcare system. Since curing her multiple myeloma, Kathy has guided thousands of patients through their treatment journeys. And when recently diagnosed with a second cancer, this time breast cancer, Kathy applied her learnings again.

Today, as a two-time cancer survivor, business leader and healthcare disrupter, Kathy’s crusade continues. To push for change where it’s needed most. To fix what is broken so others may heal. To simplify the journey for others, so they can heal themselves.

As someone who has changed the healthcare system from inside and out, Kathy understands firsthand that the promise of today’s science to change lives is truly amazing. But the hard truth is that the system remains badly broken. And fighting your way through it can be its own kind of death sentence. As Kathy says, “The greatest fear that lives in the hearts of patients is to know that a new drug out there is working… that a new field could be curative… but they may not live long enough to get it.” Kathy is living proof that if you take the right steps, you can buy yourself time. And with today’s science, a year can buy you a lifetime. Kathy’s mission is to share what she’s learned, so all patients can take the steps they need to optimize their own care.

Kathy Giusti is Co-Founder, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), Co-Founder, Harvard Business School (HBS) Kraft Accelerator, and serves on the Board of Directors for EQRx and the MMRF, and the Harvard Business School Healthcare initiative advisory board. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. and honorary doctorate from the University of Vermont. She is currently writing a book about 12 simple steps every person facing a fatal diagnosis should take to get closer to a cure.

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