As we are reminded during National Family Caregivers Month in November, taking care of a loved one with an illness, such as cancer, can be both physically and emotionally challenging. For caregivers of the approximately 70,000 American adults currently living with the second most common blood cancer, multiple myeloma, there are additional responsibilities associated with taking care of their loved ones.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow. More than 21,000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012, and up to 95 percent of patients with advanced-stage multiple myeloma will experience the disease spreading to their bones. Once the disease has spread, patients may experience bone complications such as weakening of the bones and fractures. Specifically, African Americans are disproportionately affected by the disease – they are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease than Caucasians – and the mortality rate for multiple myeloma in the U.S. is two times higher in the African American population compared to the Caucasian population.
To help address this health issue among the African American community and provide support to multiple myeloma patients and their caregivers, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (“Novartis”) is collaborating with the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of 34,000 churches across the United States, on “To Stay in the Game, Maintain Your Frame.” “To Stay in the Game, Maintain Your Frame” is an educational program designed to educate African Americans about multiple myeloma, the importance of maintaining bone health, and the need for doctor-patient dialogue to be an active participant in their health.
“Through ‘To Stay in the Game, Maintain Your Frame’ we have created educational materials to inform multiple myeloma patients and their caregivers about simple adjustments that may be made to a patient’s diet, physical routine and home to help maintain bone health,” says Reverend Anthony Evans, president of the NBCI. “We are excited to work together with Novartis to provide these new informative resources to the African American community.”
Visit the program website, www.MaintainYourFrame.com, to learn more and to find multiple myeloma patient/caregiver education materials and tips on maintaining better bone health. Materials are also provided through the NBCI’s coalition of churches spanning 15 denominations and representing 15.7 million African Americans in the U.S.