Spotlight shines on blood cancer this September awareness month

IMF raising funds to support research into multiple myeloma treatments

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by Mary Chapman |

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Blood Cancer Awareness Month, observed globally every September, seeks to raise awareness of all blood malignancies — there’s one case of blood cancer diagnosed every three minutes in the U.S. alone — with advocacy and research groups launching new campaigns each year.

For its part, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) this September will again emphasize multiple myeloma, the second most common type of blood cancer. The U.S.-based nonprofit is seeking to raise funds for research while supporting patients and their families.

To that end, the IMF will reprise and enhance its #kNOwMyeloma campaign during the awareness month, focusing on the question, “Do You Know Myeloma?”

The objective is to motivate patients to educate themselves about the disorder and subsequently share their knowledge on social media. Myeloma begins in plasma cells, a white blood cell that produce antibodies that help stave off infectious microbes and other threats.

“By educating those who have no knowledge of myeloma while engaging with individuals living with the disease, the IMF hopes to raise awareness about multiple myeloma within the broader blood cancer community,” the IMF stated in a foundation press release about its work during the awareness month. “The IMF also aims to inspire the myeloma community to continue advocating for those impacted by the disease.”

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The overall theme for Blood Cancer Awareness Month this year is #ThisIsBloodCancer. A number of downloads and resources are available to help patients, family members, friends, and advocates to join in awareness campaigns and mark their observance.

Participants are encouraged to use the color red — the event’s official color — to help call attention to blood cancers, with which more than 1 million people are estimated to be diagnosed annually.

For individuals with multiple myeloma, the IMF’s campaign gets specific. The nonprofit seeks to educate the general public, as well as those living with myeloma, about this type of blood cancer.

The IMF’s goals include:

  • providing essential information about myeloma, including symptoms, the need for early diagnosis, tests, and disease progression
  • calling attention to the IMF’s myeloma resources and InfoLine team, which can help addresses myeloma-related questions and concerns
  • raising awareness of the disproportionally high myeloma frequency among people of African descent
  • providing information and advice concerning self-care for caregivers of myeloma patients.

In addition, the organization’s Support Group seeks to empower patients and their caregivers with insight, information, and hope.

The IMF is offering awareness month participants a social media tool kit with downloadable and shareable myeloma facts, information on treatment breakthroughs, and inspirational stories from those living with myeloma. Participants are invited to share these on social media, using the hashtag #kNOwMyeloma.

There is an awareness month myeloma quiz on Instagram, and shareable videos on YouTube from members of the myeloma community.

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Facebook Live events slated throughout awareness month

The campaign also features efforts to eradicate multiple myeloma. These include educating people about the latest advancements in clinical trials and research, and offering information about the International Myeloma Working Group.  That group seeks to conduct myeloma investigations while providing consensus guidelines for the global myeloma community.

Other efforts aim to increase funds for the IMF’s research initiatives, and to affirm the goals of the Global Myeloma Action Network on treatment access, increased myeloma awareness, and increased global organizational capacity.

The nonprofit also seeks to advocate for early detection and diagnosis among African Americans, and to spread the word about the related M-Power Project.

For the month, the IMF also is offering the following free Facebook Live events, all held at 7 p.m. EST:

Limited-edition kNOwMyeloma merchandise will be offered to the participants asking the best questions to the speakers in these sessions.

“At the IMF, we believe that knowledge is power and shared knowledge builds a resilient and hopeful community. Together, we will make an impact across the myeloma community,” the organization stated in the release.

With more than 525,000 members in 140 countries, the IMF is the largest global foundation that focuses specifically on multiple myeloma. It seeks to improve the life of patients while working toward prevention and a cure.