To the City of Fairmont

On behalf of the Fairmont MN Area Multiple Myeloma Support Group, thank you Mayor Quiring and city council members for making this declaration and bringing awareness to this incurable cancer by declar­ing March as Myeloma Awareness Month.

Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that affects the immune system and can damage bone. It is an uncontrolled growth of plasma cells in the bone marrow which can lead to anemia, infections, bone lesions, vertebral compressions, osteoporosis, severe pain and kidney dysfunction. Despite these facts, a majority of patients have never heard of it before their diagnosis. Myeloma currently affects more than 100,000 people in the United States, with an estimated 20,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Myeloma is increasing in num­bers and is becoming more common in younger patients, with possible links to environmental toxins.

One of your Fairmont Residents, Darrell Roebbeke’s journey with myeloma started with a fall on the ice in January 2012. He had back pain from the fall so he saw doctors a few times, who ordered pain medi­cations, along with heat and cold therapy, etc.

Then in March of 2012 Darrell was admitted to the Mayo Clinic Health Systems – Fairmont Hospital and then transferred by ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN. He had pneumonia, sinus infection, and still had the pain in his back. Upon admission to St. Mary’s Hospi­tal many tests began. One of the tests – an imaging of the spine showed there was a lytic lesion in the T5 fractured vertebra. That was a red flag for multiple myeloma, since this cancer is known to rob calcium from bones, weakening them. In his 13 days of hospitalization, more tests were done, along with doing a bone marrow biopsy. That confirmed his diagnosis of multiple myeloma. He was not a candidate for a stem cell transplant because of his age.

A regimen of medications was started, along with getting an infu­sion every twenty eight days. Some side effects of the medication take place, but you learn to deal with that. Since myeloma likes to come back, he will stay on some form of chemo­therapy on and off for the rest of his life.

Darrell’s quote, “Having cancer has made me be more thankful and ap­preciative of each new day.”

I, also have myeloma, diagnosed in July of 2008 with the symptoms of back pain, high calcium blood level and kidney failure, was placed on chemo, relapsed Dec 2008, hospi­talized and given seven chemos for two weeks, radiation on back and hip, followed by five verteboplasties (cementing of vertebra) a stem cell transplant in July 2009, relapsed Dec 2009, currently on continual chemo therapy three weeks on and four weeks off. This type of treatment is common with myeloma.

To help raise awareness the Inter­national Myeloma Foundation (IMF) declared March as ‘Myeloma Aware­ness Month’ in 2009. Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the IMF is the old­est and largest myeloma organization dedicated to improving the qual­ity of life of myeloma patients and their families. To learn more about myeloma and the IMF please visit myeloma.org. Additionally, we have a local support group, The Fairmont MN Area Multiple Myeloma Support Group meets the 4th Saturday of the month, meeting every other month starting with the month of Febru­ary. Our next meeting will be Sat Apr 26th from 10am to noon. Our meeting location is “The Classroom” at the Mayo Clinic Health Systems Hospital here in Fairmont. All pa­tients, caregivers, family members and interested persons are welcome.

Thank you again Mayor Quiring and City Council for your help in our fight to find a cure for myeloma.

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