Governor Jack Markell officially declared March as Myeloma Awareness Month on March 20. Members of the Delaware Multiple Myeloma Information & Networking Group attended the proclamation signing in the State Capital Offices for the second consecutive year. Guests invited by the Myeloma Group included the Director of the Cancer Support Community in Kent County and the Clinical Coordinator of Bayhealth Cancer Centers.
Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer. Yet the majority of patients have never heard of it until told they had the disease. To help raise awareness, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) in 2009 declared March “Myeloma Awareness Month. IMF affiliated Support Groups throughout the U.S. approached their local and state officials to consider joining the campaign. Last year over 60 cities and four states participated. Delaware lived up to its history as The First State in focusing attention on this disease.
Attention and awareness can lead to increased funding for research and ultimately save lives. Attention and awareness also can lead patients to ask whether their doctor has considered myeloma as a possible cause for their symptoms and. therefore, resulting in 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 impacts more than 100,000 people in the United States, with an estimated 20,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Myeloma is becoming more common in younger patients. Recently, myeloma was added to the list of cancers covered in people exposed to the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The Delaware Health and Social Services, The Division of Public Health issued an extensive report in April 2013. Presenting data from 2005-2009, the report states that multiple myeloma accounts for 1.2 percent of all cancer cases diagnosed in Delaware. The rate of incidence in this State (6.1 per 100,00) exceeded that of Nation (5.8 per 100,000). African Americans nationwide have a higher rate of incidence of this disease.
International Broadcaster Tom Brokaw’s announcement that he has multiple myeloma highlighted recognition of this cancer. “Brokaw did for myeloma what former First Lady Betty Ford accomplished for breast cancer,” stated Josephine Diagonale, myeloma patient and leader and founder of the Delaware Multiple Myeloma Information & Networking Group affiliated with the International Myeloma Foundation. Launched in 2011, this group meets in both Dover and Rehoboth. For more information and a calendar of meetings, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-233-8229.
Fortunately, advancements in myeloma research and treatment make it possible for many patients to live active lives for many years.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL MYELOMA FOUNDATION
Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the International Myeloma Foundation reaches more than 350,000 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. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 250 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and established the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), a collaborative research initiative focused on improving myeloma treatment options for patients. For more information, the IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE (2873). The global website is myeloma.org.