While many physicians go the extra mile for their patients, few can say they’ve gone more than 3,000.
But Dr. Rafat Abonour — an Indiana University School of Medicine multiple myeloma researcher, Harry and Edith Gladstein Professor of Cancer Research at Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and IU Health physician — boasts that distinction and more.
Each fall, Abonour and fellow Miles for Myeloma cyclists – a crew made up of myeloma researchers and medical caregivers, family members of patients and even a couple patients themselves – ride and fundraise for multiple myeloma research and treatment. Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood that originates in the bone marrow, affects about 20,000 people every year. Since 2005, Miles for Myeloma has raised more than $6.7 million for multiple myeloma research and enhanced patient care. Beyond its imperative fundraising aspect, the event gives myeloma patients and their loved ones the opportunity to generate awareness about the rare disease.
It is this dogged dedication and compassion that captured the interest of Make It Better Media Group, inspiring it to put up a matching grant for the event’s 17th anniversary fundraising campaign. The campaign, which aims to raise $10,000, will support research at the IU School of Medicine and enhanced patient care at IU Health.
Abonour, along with his colleagues at IU treat hundreds of new patients annually.
In fact, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center set the bar for its peers, becoming the first entity in the state to introduce CAR T-cell therapy to patients with multiple myeloma. The rare disease’s prognosis is not as grim as it once was; many live with it for decades, and new treatments are on the horizon.
Miles for Myeloma was the brainchild of a group of Abonour’s patients. Rather than having his patients plan a standard participatory event, Abonour offered to personally cover the miles in states throughout the Midwest. He reasoned that as his patients travel from all over, he should make an effort to go to them.
Philanthropic support is key to ongoing efforts to improve outcomes for every myeloma patient, as grant funding remains limited. Although we cannot be together this year in a traditional way, fundraising efforts are more important now than ever.
Watch the video below for more on Miles for Myeloma: