I really enjoyed meeting all of the multiple myeloma patients and caregivers at Saturday’s support group meeting in Jackson, Mississippi! The group uses a very nice special events room at the Corner Bakery Cafe each month. Wendy Mosier, a nurse in the BMT unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, along with Fran from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Camille, the International Myeloma Foundation’s patient leader, organized the gathering. The Health Systems Manager, Millennium Pharmaceuticals rep, Stacey D’Mello, was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and provide munchies for the group. Thanks, Stacey!

The turn-out was small but enthusiastic. Several of the survivors at the meeting have defied the odds and are still alive and relatively well after seven years or longer. One of them was first diagnosed in the early 90’s! I didn’t think to get permission to use patient names, so I will respect everyone’s privacy and not get too specific. But this meeting was a classic—and the ultimate example of why support groups are so important. One of the attendees was newly diagnosed and very anxious about an upcoming stem cell transplant. She was immediately reassured by several former SCT recipients. Another seven year survivor was anticipating her third transplant. She was able to comfort the new “SCT virgin,” feeling better about her own anticipated ordeal in the process.

That’s what these meetings are all about! Coming together as one community—patient helping patient.

And let’s not forget about the caregivers! I could tell those who attended left feeling more connected and energized.

I couldn’t have left feeling any better about my trip! I made lots of new friends. PLus, I left Jackson with an “I can’t wait” feeling in anticipation of my next trip to speak to another group in Atlanta Tuesday.

Feel good, keep smiling and remember, dearest patients and caregivers—there is hope! Pat