You would never guess that St. John’s local Barb Skinner is 69 years old. The retired hair stylist looks ten years younger than her age, is energetic and strong; she loves carrying her grandchildren up and down the stairs on her back. That’s why it was strange when Barb’s energy levels started falling last year. She had a recurring cough, multiple chest infections, and quick stabbing pains between her ribs that spread down to her pelvis. Not long before Christmas 2018, Barb sneezed, and the force broke her collar bone. After a visit to the emergency room where she received an x-ray and a series of blood tests, Barb was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a little-known blood cancer of the plasma cells.
“Barb is the strongest and most up-beat person that I know, she always has been,” says Barb’s daughter and caregiver, Tina Soulier, noting that her mother had already survived thyroid cancer in 2004. After her myeloma diagnosis, Barb received six months of chemotherapy, followed by a successful stem cell transplant. She is now in remission.
After her mother was diagnosed with myeloma, Tina joined the Newfoundland Myeloma Support Group and is now determined to find a way to help the community that supported her so much. That’s why she is leading the 6th edition of the St. John’s Multiple Myeloma March, that takes place on September 8 at 9 a.m. at the Quidi Vidi Lake Gazebo. “It’s my way to give back and to help raise awareness and funds for myeloma research.”
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 life expectancies have more than doubled in the past 15 years and this is continuing on an upward trend. Incredibly promising treatment options are becoming available and are helping doctors stay ahead of the disease, 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, doctors can actually say that they are getting closer to finding a cure. Investing in research is critical, which is why raising funds is more important than ever.
St. John’s is one of a record 28 communities across Canada participating in this year’s Multiple Myeloma March. St. John’s’ financial objective is $15,000.
“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.
About Myeloma Canada’s Multiple Myeloma March
The Multiple Myeloma March is the flagship fundraiser for Myeloma Canada. This year marks the 11th anniversary of its inception and will include a record 28 communities across Canada participating in the event. The national fundraising goal has been set at $550,000. For a complete list of communities hosting a Multiple Myeloma March, or to donate, please visit myelomamarch.ca.
Multiple myeloma, also known as myeloma, is the second most common form of blood cancer. Myeloma affects a type of immune cell called the plasma cell, found in the bone marrow. Every day, eight Canadians are diagnosed, yet in spite of its growing prevalence, the disease remains relatively unknown. While there is no cure, people with myeloma are living longer and better lives, thanks to recent breakthroughs in treatment. To find the cure, more funding and research are required. Learn more here: www.myeloma.ca.
About Myeloma Canada
Myeloma Canada is the only national charitable organization created by and for Canadians impacted by multiple myeloma. The organization is driven to improve the lives of those affected by myeloma by empowering the community through awareness, education and advocacy programs, and supporting clinical research to find the cure. Since its founding in 2005, Myeloma Canada has been making myeloma matter. Learn more here: www.myeloma.ca.
*Editorial and photos courtesy of Myeloma Canada
*UPDATE: The march has been moved to Saturday, September 14th with registration starting at 2:00pm.