Sally Crate knew about multiple myeloma before she was diagnosed with it – her father died of the rare blood-based cancer.
In October 2008, she underwent a stem cell transplant, one of the known treatments for the disease.
There is no known cure.
The experience, she explained, was quick and easy. She was out the following day on her way home.
“So it was like a rebirth,” she said.
Now Crate spends a bit of her time raising money to find a cure for multiple myeloma. On Sunday, Crate helped with the merchandise booth and took part in the five-kilometre walk that began at the Port of Saint John and took in some of the Harbour Passage.
The goal of the walk was to raise $10,000 for the cure, and before the event even began, the group had already raised $8,700.
The march went virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, it was back in person. Participants were sporting red, with red daisies and even some red shoes.
The major fundraising goal this year is $600,000 nationally, according to the march’s organizing website. Saint John and Moncton each have a march in the province, with another taking place in Halifax.
How multiple myeloma works
There are plasma cells that are primarily found in the bone marrow. Those marrow plasma cells sometimes change and cease to behave normally. They then multiply and produce more abnormal cells.
“These abnormal plasma cells begin to divide uncontrollably and make more abnormal plasma cells. These changes can lead to multiple myeloma (a cancer of the plasma cells) or a precancerous condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS),” according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The Canadian Cancer Society adds, “multiple myeloma develops when there is a buildup of many abnormal plasma cells (called myeloma cells) in the bone marrow. It makes it hard for other blood cells in the bone marrow to develop and work normally.”
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It can cause symptoms such as fatigue and can upset the balance of certain minerals in the body. It can lead to bone damage and high levels of calcium in the blood and make multiple proteins that affect organs like the kidneys.
Crate said the biggest thing for her is remaining positive. Now in remission, she says she takes every day as a miracle.
“I’m healthy,” she said. “It’s been a journey of just living every day … I write in my journal every day and try to remain positive.”
She said the bad days do come, but she always tries to turn things around, and that’s the advice she’d give anyone in her shoes.
A little ray of sunshine, too, is her first grandchild, she added.
“We find joy in a lot of things,” she said. “Probably, don’t take life for granted and try to live each moment.”