The HealthTree Foundation announces a new initiative for African American Multiple Myeloma Patients with Marsha Calloway-Campbell as Program Director
Quoting Dr. Maya Angelou:
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
Health disparities exist for African Americans in healthcare. African American lives are part of the myeloma tapestry and these lives are equally important, however long-standing disparities in the medical field serve as barriers for Blacks from diagnosis through treatment. Outcomes are not always optimal due to misdiagnosis and less aggressive treatments. Lack of awareness of multiple myeloma in the Black community and delayed diagnosis along with other social determinants of health also create circumstances that have a direct negative impact on this population.
As it pertains to Blacks, how can we get care for multiple myeloma if we don’t even know that such a cancer exists? How can we watch for signs and symptoms if we’ve never even heard of what those symptoms might be? How can we insist on diagnostic testing for the disease when healthcare professionals might dismiss our symptoms?
When the disparities are coupled with the following facts, we know we must act. Our loved ones are too precious for us to just stand on the sidelines and acquiesce.
- Blacks have the highest risk of multiple myeloma than any race/ethnic group in the world
- Multiple Myeloma is 2-3 times more common in African Americans
- African-Americans generally present with multiple myeloma 4 years younger than their Caucasian counterparts
- While the national population of African Americans within the United States is only 13.4%, Black myeloma patients make up 19% of the United States myeloma population
HealthTree Foundation is committed to elevating awareness, education, outreach and advocacy for African American patients and caregivers. Excitement is building this month as I take on the role of Director of HealthTree’s African American Myeloma Initiative. As such, I will oversee this Initiative and will serve as a voice for and resource to all African American patients and caregivers. I’m dedicated to increasing the awareness and education in our Black communities across the country. I’m passionate about helping provide resources for Black patients for all things myeloma and to empower them, along with their caregivers to help increase chances of more positive outcomes.
This is professional for me; however, this is also personal for me. For the past 5 years, I have been a caregiver to my husband who has multiple myeloma. When diagnosed, neither of us had ever heard of the disease. HealthTree has been extremely helpful and informative, providing resources and support as we navigate our new normal.
Let’s level the playing field for African Americans, let’s work to give African Americans the same opportunities and excellent healthcare when it comes to myeloma. Let’s demonstrate that the threads of the myeloma tapestry are all equal in value. I challenge each of you to join me as we make our African American counterparts more aware and educated about multiple myeloma and its precursor conditions, MGUS and smoldering myeloma. Help our Black patients and caregivers gain the knowledge of all resources, therapies and treatments that are available to aid them on this journey.
In the Black community, a sentiment is ever-present that “we are our brother’s keeper.” We must look out for each other. We must help each other when we can. We must share relevant information for the good of us all. We can all play a role in strengthening the African American myeloma community. This is a difficult journey and we need support from everyone. We must be a blessing to each other.
I will do all that I can to give back to this community. I am blessed with a supportive village that continues to stand by me. I’m here for you. I pray that, in some small way, I can benefit your lives on your myeloma path.
Our woven myeloma tapestry must represent us all in the most equitable way possible. Our goal is to break down barriers that prevent this from happening.
about the author
Marsha Calloway-Campbell - Marsha is a caregiver to her husband who has multiple myeloma. Although a lawyer and consultant, Marsha finds time to work with the myeloma community all while enjoying time with her husband, 3 adult daughters and young grandson. She’s passionate about helping and empowering others.