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Dorchester, Ont. fundraising walk for myeloma research returns for 13th year

The Walk of Champions started in 2009 by myeloma patients Dan Childerhose and the late Keith Fleming. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

The annual Walk of Champions for Myeloma Research is returning for its 13th year on Sunday.

Like last year, the walk will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19.

Participants will be completing the walk in their own neighbourhoods after an online opening ceremony.

The annual walk is the London and District Myeloma Support Group‘s major annual fundraiser and raises money for myeloma clinical trials at the London Regional Cancer Program.

Read more: Coronavirus: Dorchester, Ont., fundraising walk for myeloma research goes virtual

“The cure would be the ultimate goal, but it’s incredible what’s come on board over the last number of years,” said multiple myeloma patient Lisa Bowden. “People are living longer lives (and) feeling good.”

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Multiple myeloma is the most common type of plasma cell cancer in which abnormal plasma cells can form tumours in bones and bone marrow — the spongy tissue found inside bones.

There is no known cure. The goal of treatment is reducing symptoms, slowing progression of the disease and putting it into remission.

“We’ve seen a wide array of medications that have been approved (to) treat myeloma patients,” Bowden continued. “It’s through many clinical trials over the years that we’ve gotten these incredible drugs that are now available.”

Londoner Heather Appleton and her family will be participating in Sunday’s walk.

Appleton was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the summer of 2016.

“I was playing baseball and thought I pulled a muscle … I went for a couple of months in a lot of pain,” she explained. “It was a tumour in my spine … I had surgery for the tumour along with chemo, stem cell transplant followed by radiation, and I’ve been on chemo ever since.”

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Appleton says the advancements in treatment and medications have given her a chance to live as healthy a life as possible.

“I don’t feel like a cancer patient … Life is good,” she smiled.

Read more: What is multiple myeloma? A look at form of cancer MP Jim Carr is facing

The Walk of Champions was started in 2009 by myeloma patients Dan Childerhose and the late Keith Fleming.

To date, the walk has raised more than $750,000 for myeloma research.

Those interested in donating can do so on the Walk of Champions website.

–With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Devon Peacock

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