It’s the second most common form of blood cancer, and yet few people have ever heard of it.
It’s called myeloma and it’s incurable.
The number of Canadians living with myeloma grows every year, according to Myeloma Canada, so the organization is hosting the sixth annual Vancouver Myeloma March, a fundraising drive for the disease on Sunday, Oct. 23 at the Burnaby Lake Rowing Pavilion.
Alan Silverman, a voice and dialect coach based in Metro Vancouver, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2019 when he was 52 years old.
He was experiencing increasing back pain, and physiotherapy wasn’t helping.
“I knew it was serious when I got the phone call from the hospital, and they told me to drop what I was doing and come in right away,” said Silverman in a statement.
“I had no idea what myeloma was and what this diagnosis meant for my future.”
Myeloma affects a certain kind of immune cell, the plasma cell, found in bone marrow. Eleven Canadians per day are diagnosed with the disease.
Since the diagnosis, Silverman received aggressive chemotherapy and underwent a stem cell transplant procedure. He’s not in remission but he’s responding well to the maintenance therapy.
“Every year, we’re getting closer to finding a cure,” said Martine Elias, executive director of Myeloma Canada in a news release. “That’s why the funds raised at the Vancouver March are so critical. They’ll help to keep myeloma research moving forward and to improve the lives of Canadians impacted by this devastating disease.”
The Myeloma March at Burnaby Lake is one of more than 34 marches happening nation-wide. The Burnaby Lake fundraiser has a goal of $60,000 – Silverman’s personal goal is $5,000.
There is also a virtual march option for those not near a physical location.
“Life expectancy for myeloma patients has more than doubled in the last 15 years, which is incredible,” said Silverman.
“I hope I can do my part in helping raise awareness and funds at this year’s march so that we can ultimately find a cure.”
When: Sunday, Oct. 23 at 11 a.m.
Where: Burnaby Lake Rowing Pavilion
Cost: Donations can be made online