Running For The Cause: One Man’s Fight Against Myeloma
Patient Perspective Nelson Wiebe is taking on multiple myeloma. With the help of Myeloma Canada, he has embarked on a national campaign called Making Miles Matter for Myeloma, which aims to raise funds for myeloma research.
This 24-year-old isn’t the sort of guy who’s satisfied with signing online petitions or making contributions by direct deposit each month. He wants to make a change, he wants to make life better for people living with multiple myeloma, and he’s not going to rest until he’s made a meaningful impact.
Nelson’s involvement with multiple myeloma started in 2010, when he discovered that his aunt, Ruth Klassen, was suffering with the disease. Since then, Nelson has been amazed by the love and sympathy that Ruth has shown to others who are sick, even though she herself has cancer.
“It hit me pretty hard when she was diagnosed, I just didn’t know what to do,” says Nelson. “Everyone in the family was being really supportive, but I didn’t feel it was enough. I had to do something, and I wanted to do something that would make a difference and help her in any way that I could.”
Nelson contacted Myeloma Canada — the only national organization exclusively devoted to myeloma patients — and, after some productive discussions, an agreement was made to collaborate in the organization of a multi-city marathon campaign called Making Miles Matter for Myeloma.
“The concept of a marathon is symbolic of the fight multiple myeloma patients go through,” says Nelson. “In a marathon, the human body begins to break down and the runner battles to continue forward. In the same way, those with multiple myeloma have to fight every day for their lives.”
A marathon man in the making
Official training began three years ago and includes a regular routine of running, swimming, and weight lifting. Although he’s been an active sportsman since the age of five, Nelson had never actually focused on running before helping to conceive the Making Miles Matter for Myeloma campaign, which was years in the making and made possible thanks to a generous grant from Celgene Inc. and the support of Myeloma Canada.
Throughout the planning his dead-eyed focus never waned. “With each passing month I reminded myself that I would be better prepared,” says Nelson. “Only the occasional cold and ankle sprains have sidelined me over this time.”
Reality of multiple myeloma
Nelson has committed to running five Canadian marathons over a three-month period. Despite his intensive training regime, every marathon is a painful struggle.
Ruth Klassen hopes that her nephew’s efforts will help to educate Canadians about the reality of multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. While there have been significant treatment advances over the past few years that are allowing people to live longer, she wants the campaign to lead to earlier diagnosis and more breakthroughs in treatment. For the myeloma patient, treatment is a crucial part of living with the disease. It’s the type of cancer that requires patients to seek out new treatments when their current treatment stops working; their lives depend on the next new treatment.
“We have all been touched by cancer in some way,” Nelson says. “Through awareness, early detection and new treatments, patients can live longer, healthier lives.”
If you want to support Nelson by contributing to the Making Miles Matter: Run for Ruth Fund, go to: makingmilesmatter4myeloma.ca
You can follow Nelson on Facebook or on Twitter as he completes his last few marathons.