Rolland Manning wants to make multiple myeloma matter. He’s calling more attention to the rare form of cancer. After three years of not knowing what was wrong with his wife of 56 years, who constantly felt unwell and was in pain, Rolland found himself supporting her at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre as the pain became too much.
“Going to the Hospital was the pivotal point for us after three years of not knowing what was wrong, three years of having to reduce a very active lifestyle and always having to second guess any social or travel plans,” explained Rolland. “At the Hospital we discovered that the pain was stemming from two lower back compression fractures. After 10 days of treatment and 3.5 weeks of therapy, she was able to walk again and we went home.”
However, little did Rolland realize that the blood work that his wife completed upon discharge would show that she had multiple myeloma cancer. “We were not expecting that result, and we were confused, anxious, angry and in denial. Fortunately though, my wife’s cancer was found thanks to doctors who did further investigation into my wife’s symptoms, beyond the surface health issues and possibilities of arthritis, sciatica, and age-related illnesses that most providers suspected.”
Multiple myeloma, commonly referred to as ‘myeloma’, is a cancer of the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. A plasma cell is a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. When these cells become cancerous they grow at an abnormal rate and start to ‘crowd out’ other cells that our bodies need, such as red blood cells and platelets. As a result, myeloma affects several places in the body where bone marrow is normally active in adults, such as the bones of the spine, skull, ribs, and long bones in the arms and legs. Currently, the cause of myeloma is still unknown, but every day eight Canadians are diagnosed with this type of cancer. Although there is no cure for myeloma, it is treatable. Many myeloma patients go on to lead full lives for years after diagnosis.
While Rolland has embraced his role as a caregiver for his wife by focusing on her medication regimen, assisting with daily tasks, making sure her appointments are kept and staying positive for her, he is also taking on an advocacy role. “One way that we can combat this hidden threat is to raise more awareness, and provide more public information and advocate for health agencies and the government to bring more attention to this rare disease,” said Rolland. “I feel that there needs to be more emphasis on this type of cancer at all levels. It was surprising to me how many people aren’t aware of myeloma or what it is. We should all be prepared to look for signs of this disease.”
Rolland has been integral to organizing aMyeloma Canada InfoSession for patients and caregivers on October 14th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information about the event.