Fantastic Turnout for Inaugural Multiple Myeloma March
Prince George, B.C. – “I am absolutely blown away by the turnout here today and I want to thank every one of you for supporting the very first Multiple Myeloma March to be held in Prince George.”
The words of organizer Anthony Everett as he addressed a very large crowd of people of gathered at the Otway Nordic Centre Saturday morning to raise money to fight the relatively unknown form of cancer. He was hoping for some community support for this first-ever march here but it became evident as first the regular parking lot and then the overflow lot filled with vehicles that he had a lot more support than expected.
Everett, who is on the national board of directors for Myeloma Canada, is the first to co-ordinate the walk in Prince George and says “hopefully in the years to come we will get a group of people who will make it bigger and better, but this is the start.” He says “there isn’t a patient support group here and so one of the things that hopefully will come out of this is such a group.”
But he really was taken by surprise with the turnout. “We got a little bit of local media coverage and there are people arriving right now that I don’t know. I have friends and family here but I’m actually shocked. This morning I had a very modest goal for fundraising dollars and we’ve easily quadrupled it or more. My goal was $2,000 because I really didn’t know what to expect and now we’re getting donations from all over. There’s some people here who have raised $3,000 themselves.”
Well, when it was all tallied this first march brought in more than $15,000.
Everett says there is treatment for Multiple Myeloma, which is cancer of the plasma cells, at the Northern Cancer Centre here, and he adds “it’s amazing and we are so lucky to have it. Unfortunately some of the key treatments, like a stem cell (or bone marrow) transplant which I had, that’s all in Vancouver. But all the regular chemo, radiation, all that is here and there are great doctors and nurses here. All I can tell people is it’s a very complicated cancer, more so than a lot of them, because its blood, and your blood goes through your body so there’s some challenges that way.”
Although information had been circulated that his cancer is in remission Everett says “no, they don’t really call it that because I live with a small trace amount in my blood and there’s a number of people that way. Remission is a harder thing to get to for this kind of cancer and unfortunately I know that everyone who goes through this has relapse. That means the cancer in your blood shoots back up and you have to deal with it.”
“I’m doing great right now, in fact I’m probably doing better right now than I did for years before I got this because they think I probably had this for years before I got diagnosed. That’s one of the things we’re trying to tell people about. If you have bone pain and some of these things go get a blood test and get them to look for myeloma.”
“I was lucky, my local doctor was this brilliant guy and he thought about it right away. Even in the medical community it’s not well known. It’s getting more known now but is still relatively uncommon.”
He says earlier this year he elected to stop taking chemotherapy regularly “for quality of life, just to feel good and I feel great. Some people take a chemo pill every day and I know it will be available to me when I have a relapse or the cancer in my blood changes again. It’s been three years now that I’ve had it and for a large part of that I was doing all the chemo. But it does take a toll so I decided (not to take chemo) and I’m feeling really great. It’s not for everybody but there’s so many different treatment options.”
“One of the cool things about this that people don’t know is that in 2000 the survivor rate of this was 3 to 5 years and now, 17 years later, it’s ten years.”
He says 7 people a day are diagnosed with this cancer “so that’s just under 3,000 people a year and then about half of that a year don’t make it. It’s still relatively small numbers but it’s growing because we have an aging population. The average age of diagnosis is 63 or 65, so I’m way younger than the average.”
“People who are older fall, break their hip. They need to look a little deeper at what some of these issues are because it could be their bones are getting impacted by the blood plasma cancer.”
The Otway Nordic Centre was selected for the walk, which consisted of one or two laps of a 5 km loop, because Everett and his wife Paulina are members “and we love it out here. We just wanted to do something a little different and thought let’s have dogs and kids and bikes and walk on a trail. And, friends of ours are running this facility and they generously said ya and opened the doors for us so that was nice, too.”
Anyone interested in donating to the Multiple Myeloma March can go to myelomacanada.ca and go to the Prince George page to make a contribution. And you get a tax receipt right away.