Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner's proclaiming March 2013 “Myeloma Awareness Month at a recent city council meeting has special meaning for one Farmington Hills resident
John Ricco was diagnosed with the disease in 2000, when he was 52. Also called multiple myeloma, the incurable cancer attacks cells in the bone marrow and affects blood cell production and can lead to anemia, infections, bone lesions, vertebral compressions, osteoporosis, severe pain and kidney dysfunction.
“We appreciate Mayor Barry Brickner’s help in raising awareness of myeloma,” said Ricco, leader of the Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit Multiple Myeloma Support Group. “This recognition is important to me because it will help build awareness in the community to this disease and also perhaps trigger funding for research at the state and national level to find more therapies and ultimately a cure for myeloma.”
In a press release, Ricco noted that approximately 100,000 Americans live with myeloma, with nearly 20,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Myeloma is increasing in numbers and is becoming more common in younger patients, with possible links to environmental toxins. Recently, myeloma was added to the list of cancers covered in people exposed to the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.
“Our support group is a place where people with myeloma and their families can learn about the newest treatments available and gain support and advice from those who have been living with the disease," Ricco said, adding that the group provides the tools to help myeloma survivors and caregivers understand the disease, be an informed patient, find out the current therapies, hear shared side effects and experiences from other myeloma survivors, and get emotional and social support. "
My wife, Jan, and I regularly attend the monthly Multiple Myeloma support groups at Gilda’s in Royal Oak," he said. "We are kept informed of the latest in myeloma therapies and research, as well as, help others cope with their disease."
This year, myeloma patients around the country have reached out to their local governments to have March officially declared “Myeloma Awareness Month.” More than 50 cities, 7 counties, Washington State and Delaware have issued proclamations this year.
The Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit Multiple Myeloma Support Group meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at 3517 Rochester Road, Royal Oak. For information, call 248-577-0800 or visit gildasclubdetroit.org.