Cancer Patient Advocate From Lawrenceville, N.J., Reports from Major American Hematology Conference
Joining the approximately 18,000 hematologists and health-care professionals attending the recent 54th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, were a number of cancer patients, caregivers and support group leaders. Philadelphia Multiple Myeloma Networking Group member and patient advocate Cindy Chmielewski of Lawrenceville, N.J., was one of them.
Chmielewski’s participation at the conference was sponsored by the International Myeloma Foundation, the oldest and largest foundation dedicated to improving the life and care of myeloma patients around the world. Myeloma, also called multiple myeloma, is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow that affects production of red cells, white cells and stem cells and can damage bone. It is being contracted by an increasing numbers of people and is particularly affecting younger people.
ASH participants like Chmielewski were brought up-to-date on the latest research, therapies, and tools available to myeloma patients. During the conference, she and her fellow patient advocates reported back to the myeloma community using a variety of social media tools, including blogs, Twitter, video and Facebook.
This came naturally to Chmielewski, who was diagnosed with myeloma in 2008. She reaches out to fellow patients and doctors via Twitter using the appropriate handle “@MyelomaTeacher” to pass along research news, identify noteworthy articles on the subject and create an online community of those interested in learning as much as they can about the disease. She has over 800 followers.
IMF is leading in the areas of research, education and support, and counts Chmielewski as one of the success stories whose participation at ASH the organization sponsored. Held December 8-11, 2012, at the Georgia World Congress Center, ASH’s annual meeting is the premier hematology conclave in the world. Some 300 pharmaceutical companies, medical suppliers, clinical diagnostic and research-based companies, publishers, and nonprofit organizations were on hand in the state-of-the-art exhibit hall, IMF among them.
“I have learned to live with myeloma,” says Chmielewski. “I try to make the best of each day, and help others deal with this unpredictable, unique disease.”