Our great country is a vast, sparsely populated space with many Canadians living in remote areas, far from major population centres. Myeloma patients who live in these smaller communities potentially face unique challenges in accessing the care they need. The specialized teams of myeloma experts are generally found in the larger academic hospitals, often very far from the patient. Additionally, treatment choices can be more limited as many hospitals in smaller communities often do not offer myeloma clinical trials to their patients. Some patients choose to travel long distances to access these trials, but many are unable to do so. Another important resource that is unavailable to many of these patients is a local myeloma support group. Although Myeloma Canada works with 29 support group across the country, many in smaller communities, a huge gap nevertheless remains for many patients who feel isolated and alone.
Aldo Del Col, Co-founder & Chairman,
Myeloma Canada
Having been born and raised in Timmins in Northeastern Ontario, I have a particular sensitivity to cancer patients living away from the larger metropolitan areas of the country. A myeloma patient in Timmins, for example, needs to travel 3-4 hours (depending on road conditions) to see a hematologist in Sudbury. Sometimes it is difficult to arrange for transportation, adding to stress and anxiety. And if a stem cell transplant is required, then it’s usually off to Ottawa, an 8-hour drive away. Far from family, friends and familiar surroundings for an extended period of time, and not mentioning the added financial burden that this entails.
 
This month’s newsletter profiles the personal experiences of four myeloma patients living in “remote” communities. Despite the challenges they face, their stories are inspiring and underscore the importance of having a strong support system.
Myeloma Canada’s goal is to provide support for the Canadian myeloma community, regardless of geography. Our webinars, InfoSessions and support group development programs are ways we try to reach patients who may otherwise feel isolated. Through the Myeloma Canada Research Network, we also strive to encourage hospitals in smaller cities to participate in clinical trials, thereby potentially offering additional treatment options.
 
If you would like to learn more about starting a support group in your area, write us at contact@myeloma.ca .

Aldo Del Col
Co-founder & Chairman
Myeloma Canada