In December 2013, David Duck retired from his career as a branch manager of the Canadian Western Bank in Prince George. He spent the next year-and-a-half travelling with his wife, Mary, spending time with his grandchildren, playing and refereeing soccer, and fishing with his friends.
In July 2015, David, who has type 2 diabetes, began experiencing pain in his back and kidneys right around the time of his annual bloodwork. When David’s doctor received the results of his work up, he told David to immediately go to the emergency department where staff would be expecting him. Just three days later, a bone marrow biopsy would confirm that David had multiple myeloma, a little-known and incurable blood cancer. It was the day after his 65th birthday.
David was blindsided by the diagnosis.
“I suspected something was amiss because of my back pain, but I had no idea it was cancer,” he says. “Coincidentally, I knew what myeloma was because my boss was diagnosed in 2004 and, unfortunately, passed away from it in 2010. Although myeloma isn’t talked about as much as it should be, I’ve discovered that several people I know are fighting this same battle,” David adds.
After his diagnosis, David underwent surgery to repair two vertebrae in his spine that had disintegrated from the myeloma. He also received several rounds of chemotherapy and one round of radiation over the next five months in preparation for a stem cell transplant that he received in November 2015. The procedure was a success, and David achieved full remission in January 2016.
Sadly, three-and-a-half years later, David’s myeloma resurfaced, and he was prescribed another treatment regimen. Thankfully, David has responded well to these new treatments. Recent tests show that David is nearly back in remission and his condition is relatively stable.
David is extremely grateful for the advances being made in myeloma research that have given him a new lease on life. New and evolving treatments have enabled David to, once again, enjoy his retirement.
“Because of the myeloma, I lost some strength and stamina, and I am no longer able to play soccer. Still, thanks to my current treatments, I get to play golf and fish again. I was even able to attend a fishing trip with my three sons in August – something I would not have imagined a year ago.”
David credits his improved condition to the life-saving treatments he has access to and the speed at which new drug therapies are being developed. He is now eager to do what he can to help others living with the disease; David is determined to help find a cure.
For these reasons, David and his team, A Cure’s Gonna Come, are lacing-up to raise awareness and critical research funds at Myeloma Canada’s fifth annual Prince George Multiple Myeloma March. This year, the event will be taking place, virtually, on September 18, 2021, at 9 a.m.
The five-kilometre event has been modified to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In compliance with physical distancing measures, participants are encouraged to hold their own walk in their neighbourhood at the same time as the regularly scheduled March on September 18.
“As we continue to raise awareness of myeloma, we are getting closer to reaching a cure than ever before,” says Martine Elias, Executive Director of Myeloma Canada. “Now is an exciting and encouraging time in myeloma research. There are many new clinical advances being made to help improve the quality and length of life of those living with this disease. That’s why it is crucial that we continue to raise funds for research, so that sooner than later, a cure for myeloma will be found.”
New breakthrough myeloma treatments are having a positive impact on the lives of those living with myeloma. But, according to Farah McKenzie, a Nurse Practitioner at the BC Cancer Centre of the North, more needs to be done. “While it’s encouraging to be able to tell patients that there has been an increase in life expectancy in recent years, it’s still not nearly long enough for those living with myeloma and their families. I strongly believe the new drugs coming down the pipeline will give myeloma patients even more time and a better quality of life. That’s why investing in research today is so vital.”
The Multiple Myeloma March, Myeloma Canada’s flagship fundraiser, is now in its 13th year with a national fundraising goal set at $600,000. Funds raised by the March will support Myeloma Canada’s Myeloma Research Priority Setting Partnership (PSP), a unique initiative that uses community input to identify and define future investments in myeloma research, as well as the Canadian Myeloma Research Group (CMRG) to help further Canadian research, clinical trials and the National Myeloma Database. All investments go toward improving the lives of those living with myeloma, advocating for access to new drug therapies, and keeping the needle moving forward toward finding a cure.
The Prince George Multiple Myeloma March is one of 32 communities across the country participating in Myeloma Canada’s nation-wide event. Event organizers have set a financial goal of $18,000 to fund research to find a cure for myeloma. David and his team are aiming to raise $2,500.
Multiple myeloma, also known as myeloma, is the second most common form of blood cancer. Myeloma affects a type of immune cell called the plasma cell, found in the bone marrow. Every day, nine Canadians are diagnosed, yet in spite of its growing prevalence, the disease remains relatively unknown. While there is no cure, people with myeloma are living longer and better lives, thanks to recent breakthroughs in treatment. To find a cure, more funding and research are required. To learn more, or to donate, please visit www.myeloma.ca.
About Myeloma Canada
Myeloma Canada is the only national charitable organization created by, and for, Canadians impacted by multiple myeloma. The organization is driven to improve the lives of those affected by myeloma by empowering the community through awareness, education and advocacy programs, and supporting research to find a cure. Since its founding in 2005, Myeloma Canada has been making myeloma matter. To learn more,or to donate, please visit www.myeloma.ca.