What Is Multiple Myeloma? Raising Awareness Within The African American Community
If you are of African American descent, it is important that know about multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among African Americans. Multiple myeloma is the third most common blood cancer, but it disproportionately affects the African American community. In fact, African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with and die from multiple myeloma compared to Caucasian Americans.
According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans have the highest incidence, death rate and shortest survival time of any racial group in the U.S. for most cancers. The causes of these inequalities are complex and may include barriers to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services.
Dr. Craig Cole, an African American cancer specialist from the University of Michigan Health System, recently joined me to discuss the need for raising awareness of multiple myeloma within the African American community. Accompanying him was Cheryl Boyce, a patient who shared her personal experience with multiple myeloma and how she lives with the disease today. Cheryl served as the Executive Director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health from its inception in 1986 through late 2010.
Take a look at the interview below.
For more information on multiple myeloma in the African American community, visit: www.mymultiplemyeloma.com
Meet the experts:
Craig Cole, MD
Dr. Craig Cole is a board certified hematologist at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Cole completed his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and his doctoral degree at Ohio State University College of Medicine. He began his post-doctoral training in internal medicine and hematology/oncology at the University of Michigan Health System. He has had the opportunity to do post-fellowship laboratory research in the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center of Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. This opportunity then led to a staff lectureship at the University of Michigan concentrating primarily on clinical research in multiple myeloma.
Dr. Cole then became an attending hematologist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin for nine years. While in Wisconsin, he expanded his research interests to include multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, therapeutic apheresis and myelodysplasia; participating as the onsite primary investigator for more than 21 clinical trials. He has published and presented his research at the American Society of Hematology and the American Society for Apheresis national meetings. Dr. Cole served as affiliate faculty at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before returning to the University of Michigan as an assistant professor in the division of hematology/oncology focusing in multiple myeloma and general hematology.
For years, Cheryl worked as a healthcare advocate, a job she loved. She had worked hard to create a positive family life for her husband and daughter. While packing for a trip, she needed a prescription refilled, and rather than calling in the refill, her doctor asked her to have blood work done. To Cheryl’s shock, the test results revealed multiple myeloma. She immediately thought of what she had to do to make sure her family would be okay without her, and would not drift apart if she were to die. While listening to the radio one day, she heard a sermon about living that resonated with her; when she arrived home, she was ready to start looking at treatment options online. She found an oncologist she respected and trusted, and shortly after, she began her journey through treatment. Cheryl found a great source of support among her girlfriends, who rallied around her, and from her husband. She visualized her journey through treatment as getting on a train at the station, and arriving at her destination. As a My Multiple Myeloma Ambassador, Cheryl hopes to encourage others to keep moving forward, and to pay attention, ask questions, and advocate for themselves.