Marion Bentley doesn’t like to sit still. She always has, and continues to lead an active lifestyle, regularly swimming, gardening, snowshoeing and spending time with her family. In 2006, she experienced unusual pain in her hip while downhill skiing, which she thought was most likely a pulled muscle. So, imagine her shock when she went to see her doctor and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma –a little-known blood cancer of the plasma cells.
“It completely came out of left field. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t expect it would be cancer,” says Marion. “Myeloma is a challenging disease to diagnose as everyone presents in a different way. You’re the one that knows your body. If you feel something’s wrong, you need to pursue it.”
Marion has undergone two stem cell transplants as well as three spinal surgeries and is now on maintenance therapy. She considers herself very lucky to have had access to newly developed treatment options. It’s for this reason that she is determined to help raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for myeloma. Marion will be leading the 9th annual Sault Ste. Marie Multiple Myeloma March, taking place on Sunday, September 8, at 10 a.m., starting at the Bondar Pavilion in Roberta Bondar Park.
The Multiple Myeloma March is Myeloma Canada’s flagship fundraiser. Myeloma Canada, a charitable organization, is driven to improve the lives of those impacted by myeloma and to support research toward finding a cure. In its 11th year, the five-kilometre walk/run plays a crucial role in making this happen.
“Myeloma patients have seen their treatment options increase exponentially over the past decade. Thanks to major strides in research, not only has quality of life improved but we’re encouraged to say that life expectancies have more than doubled in the past 15 years and this is continuing on an upward trend,” said Dr. Silvana Spadafora, Principal Investigator at the Algoma District Cancer Program. “We’re now seeing incredibly promising treatment options that are helping us to stay ahead of the disease, such as such as CAR T-Cell therapy, Bi-specific T-cell engagers (BiTEs), immunotherapies, and many more advances that are in development. For the first time, we can actually say that we’re getting closer to finding a cure. Investing in research is critical, which is why raising funds is more important than ever.”
Sault Ste. Marie is one of a record 28 communities across Canada participating in this year’s Multiple Myeloma March. Sault Ste. Marie’s financial objective is $16,000.
“The annual Multiple Myeloma March is not just a fun, but essential, community-building and fundraising event. Through the march, those whose lives have been touched by myeloma get to meet and connect with one another while raising funds for advancing critical clinical research. Each step taken is one that brings us closer to finding a cure,” said Martine Elias, Executive Director of Myeloma Canada.