Mother and daughter walk to raise awareness of incurable cancer

The Multiple Myeloma March is critical for raising funds for clinical research

Joyce Hannett is an active grandmother of two who enjoys baking, travelling and going to the theatre.

In 2009, after asking her doctor to check her cholesterol level, irregularities in her results prompted him to send her for more blood tests and, eventually, a bone marrow biopsy. At 69, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma cells.

“It was extremely frightening to find out that my mother had cancer, but we were lucky that it was caught early so that she could access clinical trials,” said Hannett’s daughter Susan Schmalz. “My mother had no real symptoms before she was diagnosed that could have warned us that she was so sick.”

Since her diagnosis, Hannett, has been fortunate to access several clinical trials to treat her myeloma and prolong her life. Her experience living with a myeloma diagnosis is why she and Susan will participate in the third edition of the Kelowna Multiple Myeloma March on Saturday, Sept.15 at 11 a.m.. at Kerry Park.

The Multiple Myeloma March increases awareness and raises funds for clinical research and supports advocacy for accelerated access to new therapies for Canadians living with myeloma.

The five-kilometre walk/run has helped support Canadian clinical trial research that has the potential to be practice-changing and shape the Canadian treatment landscape. Over the last decade, the average life expectancy of a myeloma patient has doubled, with many now living 10 years or longer thanks to unprecedented advances in research and the development of new treatment options.

“The Multiple Myeloma March is critical for raising funds for clinical research that give myeloma patients access to new treatments that have been proven to make a difference in patient outcomes,” said Dr. Greg Dueck, principal investigator, BC Cancer Agency Centre for the Southern Interior.

Schmalz hopes this year’s Multiple Myeloma March will raise awareness of this little-known, incurable form of cancer. “Myeloma is one of these diseases where, until you know someone who’s diagnosed with it, you’ve never heard of it,” she said. “I want to make sure we get the word out.”

Kelowna is one of 23 communities across the country that will be participating in the Multiple Myeloma March. The financial goal this year for Kelowna is $5,000.

The Multiple Myeloma March is the signature fundraiser of Myeloma Canada. The 2018 edition will mark the 10th anniversary of its inception and will include a record 23 communities participating in the walk. The national fundraising goal has been set at $550,000. For a complete list of communities hosting a Multiple Myeloma March, visit myelomamarch.ca.

For more information about Myeloma Canada, visit, myeloma.ca

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