To The Editor:
I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in February 2013. Since that time I have learned a lot about this terrible disease. I have also learned a lot about my wonderful community of Watertown and all my friends and family.
Your ongoing support has been amazing. Last year Watertown declared March, Myeloma Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness about this rare blood cancer so that it can be caught in its earliest stage.
If you or someone you know has Multiple Myeloma I strongly encourage you to visit our support group which meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Herold Leever Cancer Hospital in Waterbury.
Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer. Yet the majority of patients have never heard of it until they are told they have the disease.
To help raise awareness, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) in 2009 declared March “Myeloma Awareness Month.” Last year, over 60 cities and four states did the same.
Increasing awareness of this devastating disease can lead to increased funding for research and ultimately save lives.
Awareness can lead to patients asking whether their doctor has considered myeloma as a possible cause for their symptoms and can lead to earlier diagnosis.
Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that affects the immune system and can damage bone. 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. Recently, myeloma was added to the list of cancers covered in people exposed to the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the International Myeloma Foundation reaches more than 215,000 members in 120 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses on four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy.
For more information, the IMF can be reached at 800-452-CURE (2873). The global website is myeloma.org.
Tim Gavallas, Lieutenant, Watertown Police Department