Multiple Myeloma Support Group
Hamilton & District
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


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SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 9, 2006 MEETING

Lori welcomed all to the meeting and introduced Jill Flemming to speak about the Toronto Marathon.

Jill was promoting the 5K Walk/Run which is to take place on Sunday, October 15, 2006, at Queens Park in Toronto. Jill got involved with Myeloma fund raising when her father was diagnosed with it in 2003.

In 2004, she was the sole person participating in the Toronto Marathon on behalf of Multiple Myeloma. She raised $5400.00
In 2005, there were 113 participants in this marathon on behalf of Multiple Myeloma and they raised over $136,000.00. This group had the most participants for their cause and raised the most money in their event.
In 2006, the goal is to have 150 - 170 participants and raise over $170,000.00.

This event is a great way to meet others in the Multiple Myeloma Community. You can help support Jill and the others by sponsoring or participating. Jill and her colleagues provided pamphlets with more information about the Toronto Marathon and how to get involved.

Lori announced that Multiple Myeloma Awareness Week is from October 22 through to October 28. She has some posters if anyone is interested in putting them up in their work place or elsewhere.

Lori informed us of the sad passing of Laura McCallum. She shared her memory and a remembrance of Laura.

Lori introduced Steve White, Laura’s brother, who spoke to us about Laura and her fight. She was diagnosed in September of 2001. Laura had no idea what Multiple Myeloma was and thus began to research it and in doing so met Lori. Together they founded the Hamilton Support Group. Many individuals proved to be up to the challenge of many battles with Government, as well as others and with the disease itself. Laura accomplished much during her struggle. She helped to raise the awareness of Multiple Myeloma within the Government, within the Health Care community and within the general population. Multiple Myeloma was the number one issue raised in the Ontario Legislature in December. Fundraising is up dramatically and in mid July of 2006, funding for Valcade was approved.

Steve White presented a trophy, that was given to Laura, to the support group. The trophy speaks to the fight against Multiple Myeloma and recognizes Laura’s fight and her successes. It is not a memorial trophy but a Celebration. It will recognize key achievements within the group and will serve as a reminder that we must all keep working together to continue to move forward.

Lori introduced Dr. Foley who spoke to Laura’s legacy of achievements, and to the achievements of this support group. He commented on the huge benefits brought forth through inter group activities. Dr. Foley provided a slide presentation and talked about Multiple Myeloma Basics.

Cancer is a result of mutations that occur within healthy cells. There are 30 DNA genes in 1 healthy cell. DNA makes RNA make protein. Protein is a product that has a specific function. This gene is very important. There are drugs used to control protein. There is a small amount of information understood and more is being discovered through research. New research can compare a normal cell simultaneously with a Multiple Myeloma cell to seek out the difference.

Cancer Cells - there is a spontaneous mutation in replication of DNA. Researchers don’t always know why this occurs. Smoking and radiation can increase the rate of mutation, but mutations occur every day. If all the mutations line up in a certain way the result is Cancer. Multiple Myeloma occurs when too much protein takes over the bone marrow, creating a super cell. This cell is more vulnerable to chemotherapy. The key is to kill the cells without killing the patient. There are soldiers to kill these cells. They are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Chemotherapy cannot tell healthy cells from cancer cells, therefore side effects occur. The goal is to make chemotherapy more specific. In using radiation, one cannot radiate the whole body so it is limited to “hot spots”. Surgery does not generally play a role in Multiple Myeloma.

Weapons being used to fight cancer include new drugs, antibodies, molecular inhibitors and viruses. Research is taking place to find out why some things work for one person and not another. New research has shown that Multiple Myeloma seems to be unable to fight off viruses. It has recently been discovered that the measles virus can kill Multiple Myeloma cells. Antibodies are very important in a normal healthy process. Multiple Myeloma patients make antibodies but the cells have mutated. They are working overtime and churning out too many antibodies. The protein level in the blood is a good indicator for how may Multiple Myeloma cells are in the body. It is okay for them to be there as long as they remain inactive. Monoclonal Gammopathy or M Protein is immortal. An abnormal clone of plasma cells proliferates in the marrow and M Protein is produced. IgG, IgA, IgD, Ige, are proteins. Protein in the urine is also used as an indicator.

Bone Marrow, Kidneys, Bone, are problems related to Multiple Myeloma. Multiple Myeloma cells in bone marrow secrete protein causing lesions, anemia or renal insufficiency.

Recognition and Indication for therapy. There are three categories. Smoldering MM, Stage 1 (asymptomatic) and Indolent. Indicators are M protein is up, M protein in the urine, hemoglobin is down, and calcium or creatinine is up. Upon diagnosis the patient receives pill chemo or a stem cell transplant. When in remission the decision is made to treat or to watch. Doctors don’t know which is always best. The drug Interferon alpha will hold off the return of Multiple Myeloma but the patient is very unwell. If there is a relapse the patient and doctor must be vigilant in the plateau phase. They must watch for signs of the protein rising and treat immediately.

The whole landscape of disease is totally up in the air. With new research and new developments, Multiple Myeloma may be like a disease one can live with such as diabetes rather than a dreaded cancer.

Dr. Foley encouraged all to stay together and stay strong.

Rob Darwin thanked Dr. Foley and recognized unique talents with problem solving in dealing with Multiple Myeloma.

NEXT MEETING

Lori announced that the next meeting will be on Saturday, November 11, 2006, at Linden Park Community Church.
Jodi Steele from Cancer Rehab will address the benefits of exercise.