Race for Myeloma to raise funds, awareness

Posted Aug. 14, 2010, at 12:09 p.m.

Those of us who have lost loved ones to cancer know what it means to hear someone say, “I am in remission,” and we are grateful that person has the good fortune to be among us.

In April 2005, Rebecca “Becky” Reeve of Hampden was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of cancer of the plasma cells.

Multiple myeloma, according to information she provided, is the second-most-common blood cancer and one of the top 10 leading causes of cancer death.

In October 2005 and March 2006 Becky underwent what she described as a tandem, autologous stem cell treatment in which her stem cells were harvested and then returned to her.

“They don’t do that now,” she told me “but, at the time, they said it could give me an extra year of life.”

Becky took the chance and now can say, “I am in remission.”

She is on medication and feels very fortunate to be alive; fortunate to be able to care for her husband and two children and be active in her community.

Each year, Becky said, approximately 20 Greater Bangor families are told that “their loved one has this incurable disease,” which is why she is working hard to raise awareness of and funds for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in Norwalk, Conn.

To help support the foundation, Becky organized the Race for Myeloma, and the fourth annual 5K event begins with registration at 9 a.m. and the walk and run at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at the gazebo in Bass Park on Main Street in Bangor.

Last year, the event drew about 50 people and, since it follows on the heels of the Komen Race for the Cure, which will be held the previous weekend on the Bangor Waterfront, Becky hopes even more people will participate this year.

“Last year we raised about $3,200,” she said.

“It’s growing steadily, and that’s what I’m trying for. We never will meet the Race for the Cure, but following them should help.”

Raising funds isn’t Becky’s primary focus. It’s also about raising awareness and meeting others affected by the disease.

Helping her host the fundraiser is Irene Bartlett of Kenduskeag and Irene’s sister Dottie Knappe of Bangor.

Irene and Becky first met at this event “and that’s been one of the benefits,” Becky said.

“The first time I did this totally by myself, and then I met Irene.”

Each year, the women meet more people and network, which helps support everyone, patients and families, affected by the disease.

The registration fee for the Race for Myeloma 2010 is $20 for anyone older than 5, and a $5 discount is offered if registration is completed by Sept. 1.

The Power of 10 Challenge encourages participants to collect 10 pledges of $10 each.

Prizes will be offered for those collecting the most pledges, and the event also includes a raffle.

This year’s sponsors include TDS Telecom, the Hilton Garden Inn and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The fundraiser is held in part by Hope Lutheran Church of Bangor, and you can search “Race Myeloma” on Facebook.

More information and race forms are available by calling Becky at 356-0425 or e-mail her at raceformyelomabangor@gmail.com.

You can register online at http://www.active.com/running/bangor-me/4th-annual-race-for-myeloma-2010.

Becky, Irene and Dottie hope you will join them in raising funds for multiple myeloma research and to help provide support for families in our area affected by this disease.

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I will be on vacation next week. My column returns to this section on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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