Victims of myeloma and their supporters gathered at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion Sunday morning for the 7th annual Myeloma March. Myeloma is a type of incurable cancer that develops from cells in the bone marrow called plasma cells. This 5K march is to support research for multiple myeloma as well as to raise funds for myeloma research.
“There have been lots of strides made in the last few years, new drugs, that sort’ve thing, and this money goes directly to research, and hopefully to find a cure,” said event coordinator Pam Orchard.
Orchard told SaultOnline that the turnout for the march fluctuates from year to year – the first year they saw six walkers, but have had numbers upwards of 200. She estimated this year’s march would see around 80-100 walkers. Despite low numbers, she said they usually raise between $15,000-$20,000 each year.
“That’s pretty good for the limited number of people that have myeloma,” she said. “We do pretty well.”
Orchard said this walk has some personal meaning to her, as she has multiple myeloma. She explained that although this march does bring awareness to the community, it’s exclusively meant for people who are directly affected by this disease or are connected to someone who is.
“Plus then, of course, all of my friends now – because we do have a support group, and we get together quite often, so now they’re my friends,” she explained. “I’ve been in remission for six years, which is really unusual, and good for me, but my friends are quite often having a hard time and that’s why we really want to find a cure.”
She said she thinks this march is an important way to bring awareness to the disease, as well as to get people talking about it.
“We have a table that has pamphlets describing the symptoms, describing all of the things that can happen, your blood tests, all of those things. Multiple myeloma is a disease that is very hard to diagnose – the disease affects different people different ways. It can cause bone loss, it can cause all kinds of things to go on – your immune system gets damaged, that sort’ve thing,” she said. “So doctors quite often aren’t really aware of what it might be, and it takes a long time to diagnose.When people are aware of what can happen, then they might make a suggestion to their doctor saying, you know, ‘will you check for this?'”
They also raise awareness in other ways, Orchard explained -through interviews, newspaper articles and through Myeloma Canada itself.
For more information on Myeloma Canada, visit their website here.