Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of cells in the bone marrow that affects the immune systtem and can damage bone.  Myeloma affects more than 100,000 people in the U.S. with an estimated 20,000 new cases diagnosed each year.  It is the cancer Tom Brokaw recently announced he has been diagnosed with.  To bring attention to this blood cancer, the International Myeloma Foundation is sponsoring Myeloma Awareness Month in March.

Myeloma is increasing in numbers and is becoming more common in youunger patients, with possible links to environmental toxins.  Recently, myeloma was added top the list of cancers covered in people exposed to the aftermath of the 9/11 terro attacks.

I am a Branchburg resident, a cancer patient and support group leader of the Central Jersey Multiple Myeloma Support Group.  I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 1999, when statistics indicated I might live between 2-3 years.  However, after having two stem cell transplanmts and many different chemotherapies over the years, fortunately, I am still living a full and productive life today.  I would not be here if not for the advances made in the last 14 years by the generosity of so many to support cancer research.

In 2005 with the assistance of the International Myeloma Foundation, I organized the first support group in our area for this disease.  At the first meeting held in my home, four people attended.  The group has now grown to over 70 patients and caregivers.  We meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 pm at the Steeplechase Cancer Center in Somerville.  All patients and caregivers are welcome.  See our website for more information:

The support group provides education and ongoing support to all patients and families as they undergo treatments for this rare, incurable disease.  If you would like to learn more about myeloma, explore ways to help support patients/caregivers and help fund ongoing research in the quest to “Find a Cure” contact me or the International Myeloma Foundation:

Van Riper, Paula. “Local Support Group Available for Myeloma Cancer Patients.” Branchburg News Mar. 2014: pg.20. Print.

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