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When Myeloma Awareness Month Falls Every March - DOES ANYONE HEAR US??
Posted: Apr 02, 2014
When Myeloma Awareness Month Falls Every March - DOES ANYONE HEAR US?? image


Multiple Myeloma Awareness month is now officially over. How does a disease which effects just 20,000 people in 315,000,000 or just .0063 percent of the people in the USA annually, get any attention or awareness?  Breast cancer has 232,340 newly diagnosed annually or 11 times more cases but just 2 times more deaths.

With Tom Brokaw's diagnosis earlier this month, I question some of the recent headlines in the news lately, but only because I think they need to add some fine print.  Some of the headlines are:
Tom Brokaw's Multiple Myeloma Cancer and His Hopeful Future ...
Brokaw's multiple myeloma called incurable but treatable - USA Today
Tom Brokaw Diagnosed With Cancer, Prognosis Encouraging
Tom Brokaw reveals cancer diagnosis; doctors are 'optimistic' - CNN ...

These are all accurate, but only with some qualifiers.  For reasons I have yet to understand completely, the prognosis for the average patient is for them to live an average of just 4 years with 20% dying in the first year, and this is not too hopeful, encouraging, or optimistic. The qualifying fine print should therefore read:

The future is hopeful, encouraging, and optimistic if Tom has a skilled multiple myeloma specialist on his team, (he does). He goes to a facility that does genetic testing and is extensively involved in clinical trials (he is), is at a facility that tracks survival statistics and knows the results for every type of treatment in use at their facility (they do), is a low risk case which is 85% of cases based on genetic testing (I have no idea what his risk factors are).  And, finally some of the most skilled myeloma specialists have stated they believe a minimum of 10% to 40% of their patients will be effectively cured using currently approved drug combinations and a protocol including induction, transplant, consolidation, and then maintenance, or in one case no transplants.

One way for YOU to help with Myeloma awareness all year long is by getting this message out to your Facebook, Twitter or other social media contacts.  You may not know someone with myeloma but your contacts might, and you may just help to SAVE LIFE!  Just click the Twitter and Facebook icons at the end of this post.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma can include:

    • Bone pain and skeletal fractures, including compression fractures of the spine, which can cause severe pain, particularly in the back. A backache that lasts for months can be a signal that multiple myeloma is affecting bones in the spine and/or the ribs.


  • Fatigue, weight loss, and general discomfort caused by anemia (insufficient red blood cells).
  • Nausea, vomiting, altered mental state, depression, and headache, caused by abnormally high calcium levels in the blood (hypercalcemia).
  • Loss of kidney function, leading to fatigue, buildup of fluid in the lower limbs, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Bruising, rashes, nosebleeds, vision loss, headache, dizziness, and peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, and burning pain in the extremities) caused by blood that has thickened (a condition called hyperviscosity) due to high levels of protein.
  • Shooting pains in the arms and legs caused by a tumor in the spinal column pressing on nerves.


In about one-third of patients, multiple myeloma is detected before symptoms appear through routine blood tests that show elevated levels of immunoglobulin proteins.

Good luck and may God Bless your Cancer Journey. Learn more about multiple myeloma survival rates and treatment options on or connect with me using the Twitter feed below!

The author Gary Petersen

about the author
Gary Petersen

Gary is a myeloma survivor and patient advocate. His work centers around helping patients live longer by helping them to find facilities who are beating the average survival statistics. You can find Gary's site at and follow him on Twitter at @grpetersen1

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