A brave fight with Multiple Myeloma (MM) has hiked Canadian-born Indian-origin model - turned - actress Lisa Ray's
place in the popularity chart in recent weeks. Lisa Ray 37, was diagnosed in July this year with Multiple Myeloma, a rare and incurable cancer of the plasma cells of the blood. Ever since, Lisa Ray has been blogging regularly on her Yellow Diaries
blogspot and using her celebrity status to raise public awareness on Multiple Myeloma and the medical advances made in Myeloma treatment.
Cancer Crashes Career, Not Hope
Lisa Ray played the lead role in internationally acclaimed filmmaker Deepa Mehta's crossover film Bollywood Hollywood (2002). Lisa Ray won rave reviews for her performance as a young widow in Deepa Mehta's Oscar-nominated period drama Water (2005). Shuttling between continents on shooting schedules and product endorsements, Lisa Ray decided to listen to what her body was trying to say and went for medical tests. Saying it was a relief to hear what was wrong, Lisa added, "I was also tired of being tired all the time."
The actress who did not visibly breakdown and even put a brave front while taking the news of her inclusion into the cancer club, has vowed to fight the disease and continue living a spirited life till the end. Blogging this week before she left for a retreat in Vermont after a round of chemotherapy, Lisa wrote, "So I'm making friends with MM. I intend to be the master. Now I'm accumulating the weapons for my mutiny. I'm learning about my IGG/A/M immunology test which measures the 'M' protein in my blood. As it drops I get closer to crossing over to 'Full Remission' membership."
Capitalizing on Celebrity Cancer
Speaking to Toronto Star, the actress said, "I never thought going public about cancer was necessarily brave. Just necessary, and maybe, useful to others looking for a platform from which to share their feelings." Lisa Ray's public statements and her candid revelation of her Myeloma treatment procedure has helped bring into focus the need to step up research and explore this form of cancer. Earlier it used to hit men and fewer women in their sixties but of late there is a rising incidence of the cancer among younger people.
Lisa Ray's MM5K Walk
On October 18th Lisa Ray will do the 5 km walk in Toronto for Princess Margaret Hospital (where she is being treated) and to raise funds and awareness for Myeloma research. She has teamed up with Shane Saunderson who cycled 3500 kilometers across Canada to raise $35,000 for Myeloma research. Saunderson relocated from Oxford, England when his father living in Manitoba, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. The cycle marathon was Saunderson's way of honoring his father and his brave battle with the incurable blood plasma cancer.
Lisa Ray is not alone in her fight against Multiple Myeloma. In fact she says she is inspired by Kathy Giusti, who was diagnosed with MM at 37 like herself and had gone on to become the Founder and CEO of Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation that is intensely focused on finding a cure for the cancer. The American Association for Cancer Research AACR presented Kathy Giusti and Nicholas P. Valvano with the AACR Centennial Medal for Distinguished Public Service this year. According to a Press Release, Kathy Giusti the 13-year survivor of Multiple Myeloma, was recognized "for creating an innovative model for new drug development focusing on collaboration, speed and accountability to accelerate the availability of new treatment options, and eventually a cure, for patients with Multiple Myeloma."
Online Support Groups Encourage Hope
Lisa Ray was perhaps brave when she heard of her Multiple Myeloma. For many others, learning they had MM has been a devastating moment. Ongoing researches promise more treatment options and hopefully, advance the cure. Multiple Myeloma Support groupsboth local and online, continue to bring cheer to thousands of Myeloma patients on their journey with the disease.
There are a lot of reliable educational materials available online to help MM patients or their loved ones or carers learn more about the cancer. According to Kathy Giusti, CEO and Founder of Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, it is "so important to be educated, to feel empowered and to take control." Medical experts all over the world are working tirelessly to help improve and extend the lives of MM patients and find a cure for Multiple Myeloma. There is enough and more reason to hope for a cure in the near future. As Lisa writes in her Yellow Diaries:
"We all face different kinds of adversity, but hey, nothing is permanent, said Mr. Chaplin. Including your sorrows."