The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) announced the launch of a new initiative in the Baltimore area to address barriers to early diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma in the African American community.
In a press release, IMF wrote, “Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood plasma cells that will strike more than 30,000 adults this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is also the most common blood cancer in African Americans and is more than twice as common in people of African descent as in other races and ethnicities. But the good news is that early detection and access to treatment can improve survival.”
“The latest research data show that African American myeloma patients do well when barriers to early diagnosis and treatment are eliminated,” said Joseph Mikhael, MD, chief medical officer at IMF. “These findings have been our organization’s call to action to raise awareness.”
As part of their initiative, IMF is hosting a free, virtual multiple myeloma workshop on Saturday, Sept. 25. The event will take place at 10 a.m. ET. The workshop will feature a panel of myeloma experts discussing topics regarding this disease for new patients, including information on the latest treatments and living with multiple myeloma from a patient’s perspective. Ashraf Badros, MD, of the University of Maryland, will be one of the oncology experts on the panel, and Baltimore businesswoman Bonnie Downing, one of Dr. Badros’ patients, will be offering a patients’ point of view.
Downing was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2001. She went to her primary care physician complaining of extreme fatigue, back pain, and unexpected weight loss. She believed her symptoms were due to her work schedule, however her doctor recommended she be screened for multiple myeloma.
After a diagnosis confirmed she had multiple myeloma, Downing was referred to Dr. Badros at the University of Maryland. Under Dr. Badros’ care, Downing underwent a stem cell transplantation followed by an anti-myeloma therapeutic regimen. Twenty years later, Downing remains in remission, and she has dedicated her time to raising awareness about the elevated risk of myeloma in the African American community.
“Now, I tell everyone that if you have something that’s bothering you, go see your doctor! Don’t waste time,” said Downing.
In addition to being livestreamed, the myeloma workshop will also be recorded and posted on the IMF website for those who cannot attend. Learn more about the workshop or visit the IMF website for more multiple myeloma resources.