“Myeloma is a cancer of the blood,” says George Campsall. “It affects the immune system, the plasma cells specifically.” Campsall should know. He has been living with the disease for two-and-a-half years.
As members of the Myeloma Alberta Support Society, Campsall and fellow society member Michael Chibuk are dedicated to providing education about, and increasing awareness of myeloma as well as advocating and providing support for patients and supporting fundraising initiatives.
“The group had been supporting patients informally in Alberta for seven or eight years,” says Chibuk. “Then, in 2008, we registered under the Alberta Societies Act.” The group meets in Edmonton for a couple of hours every other month and events can include presentations from guest speakers, a patient-and-caregiver sharing session and coffee and snacks. Support group committee members are on hand to discuss society questions.
Myeloma is considered incurable. But Chibuk points out that research is improving treatments all the time. “When I was diagnosed a few years ago, the lifespan for myeloma patients was considered to be three to four years,” he says. “Now it’s eight or 10 years.” He hopes to see progress continue to the point that it becomes a chronic, manageable disease. “But we’re not there yet.” The society is a strong supporter of research.
George Campsall first heard about a fundraising run in Calgary called Multiple Miles for Myeloma. He and fellow society members decided Edmonton needed a similar effort. The run is in its second year in Edmonton, reports Campsall, and last year the event raised $43,000. Proceeds go to the Alberta Cancer Foundation for myeloma research in the province.
Hosted by the Running Room, Miles for Myeloma is a five-kilometre fun run on July 23 in Edmonton and July 30 in Calgary. Registration is $20, so grab a pal, canvas desk-to-desk at the office and join in. It’s a great way to set a modest fitness goal. Visit the Running Room online to register. For more information about myeloma in Alberta, visit myelomacomfort.com and southernalbertamyeloma.org.