March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness month and I thought I would use this platform to educate those who may not know about what it is. The man featured in the photo at the top of the page is my father, Martin Powell. He battled this type of cancer for several months until he took his final rest in May of 2009. We don’t really know the origin of how my father ended up with Multiple Myeloma but we do know this.
A very high population of men who fought in Vietnam were exposed to a chemical called “agent orange”. These soldiers developed certain cancers and birth defects in their children at a much higher rate than their unexposed counterparts.
Throughout the month of March I will be sharing more about my father’s journey with this disease, additional facts and how you can help in this fight.
So what is Multiple Myeloma?
Multiple Myeloma is a hematological (blood) cancer that develops in the plasma cells found in the soft, spongy tissue at the center of your bones, called bone marrow.
Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell responsible for producing antibodies (immunoglobulins) which are critical for maintaining the body’s immune system. Through a complex, multi-step process, healthy plasma cells transform into malignant Myeloma cells.
(source: Multiple Myeloma research foundation)
Myeloma cells result in the production of abnormal antibodies, or M proteins. A high level of M protein in the blood is the hallmark characteristic of multiple myeloma. Additionally, all myeloma cells are identical to each other and produce large quantities of the same specific M protein (for example, IgG or IgA). The M proteins offer no benefit to the body, and as the amount of M protein increases, it crowds out normally functioning immunoglobulins. This ultimately causes multiple myeloma symptoms such as bone damage or kidney problems.
More on MM.
Make sure to connect with us on social media platforms. We are planning more blog posts for the month as well as a podcast but we need you to share, re-share, and retweet our projects to help us raise awareness.