I have a dream. In my dream, I get a phone call. A voice exclaims, “Have you heard! They found the cure for cancer!” “Which cancer?”, I reply. "All cancer," says the caller. “What about myeloma?”, I ask. The caller answers, “What's that?” And after I explain, the voice says, matter of factly, “The cure is universal!”
This dream will come true. It surely will happen. Being part of what culminated at the Greenwich, CT home of my dear friends Mort and Sara Richter has convinced me. It's the same process that will free us of this plague... a coming together of energy, of creativity, of intelligence, of long, long hours of hard work and planning; a singularity of purpose to find the means to find the cure; to find a way to learn about and talk about and speak out about multiple myeloma, one more insidious version of this disease, this killer, called cancer.
And what a coming together it has been. My CBS Sunday Morning family, my Greenwich Reform Synagogue family, my medical family, my Stamford, CT family, my Greenwich family, my Brooklyn and NYC family. There's the new and essential family; the IMF, who speak the language and walk the walk that only someone with myeloma can understand. And last but not least, there's just plain family; Marcy, my wife and best friend; and my kids, Lisa and Julie, Joan and Dan.
It's been a year since I learned that I had myeloma. I had never heard of it. I had known something was seriously wrong with me... Something was knocking me out, slowing me down, hurting me, turning what had always been exciting adventures as a Sunday Morning field producer, into exhausting and painful ordeals. Then, after at least two years of complaining and a lot of doctor's visits, a CT scan found the cancer. And everything changed.
I plunged into that world of chemotherapy and steroids, of stem cell transplants and blood cell counts; of catheters and IVs, and self-injections; of radiation, of interferon, and more steroids; a world where you learn once and for all how to spell nausea and diarrhea; where you can dial the numbers for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in total darkness, a world of endless fatigue and sleepless nights, of hair loss and weight loss.
And as I slipped deeper and deeper into a new and difficult place, I worried whether anyone back in the world I had all but left behind the world I loved so much would remember me. Will they let me back in? Or had I slipped away forever, lost my citizenship. Back there, was I becoming “Whatever happened to what's his name?”
For a long time, I couldn’t deal with the success of this event. I found it terribly embarassing.
But this is not about me. I am not in this alone. There’s not a person who hasn’t felt the burden of cancer. We either have it, or had it, or our parents have it or had it. It attacks our children. It has poisoned our friends, our colleagues, our loved ones.
This is about coming together to fight back. Refusing to give in. And, yes, it's about raising money for research. But it's also about raising awarenes. The victims of myeloma are on the rise. Yet no one knows about this killer unless it strikes home. There's got to be a screening process for early detection.
We are not cowering from this disease. Doctors are saving lives every day. Medical reasearchers are attacking cancer cells on a variety of fronts. Together, we will find the cure!
Together we are giving the dream its wings.
In an inspiring display of support and dedication, Sunday Night with Sunday Morning, a gala fundraiser to support the IMF, raised more than $150,000 for multiple myeloma research. The fundraiser, co-chaired by Greenwich, CT residents Trudy Selib and Sara Richter, took place on Sunday, June 13th.
Held in honor of Stamford resident and CBS Sunday Morning producer Elliot Bernstein, the event drew an impressive crowd including Connecticut Congressman Christopher Shays, esteemed jazz musician Billy Taylor, CBS Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood, CBS news correspondents Martha Teichner and Rita Braver and WCBS-TV (New York) anchor/reporter Dana Tyler.
“I am truly touched by the outpouring of help and support we have received in planning this event," said Elliot Bernstein. "It is so overwhelmingly gratifying to see so many people come together, all united by the common goal of one day eradicating this devastating cancer.”
The festivities began with a cocktail reception and silent auction of items including a three-day Greenbriar Golf Getaway donated by the Greenbriar Resort in North Carolina, a one-week stay at a Shelter Island beachfront cottage, courtesy of a CBS producer, and a dinner party with Billy Taylor. WCBS sports commentator Warner Wolf hosted a live sports auction followed by a final auction with the Braswell Galleries. Many of the auction items were so popular, the donating party made an on-the-spot decision to provide a second donation of the same item. In total, the silent and live auctions netted more than $93,000.
Mr. and Mrs. Bernstein first approached the IMF with the idea for a fundraiser in December 1998, six months after Elliot was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Their original goal was to raise $40,000 to fund one IMF Brian D. Novis Research Grant in honor of Elliot Bernstein. Their efforts were so successful that through ticket sales and pre-event donations alone, the team had exceeded their goal prior to the fundraiser. At last count, Sunday Night with Sunday Morning raised more than $150,000, with additional donations arriving almost daily.
“This type of tremendous success just goes to show what people can accomplish when they work together," said Susie Novis, president of the IMF. "The IMF has a long history of supporting multiple myeloma research and we are honored by the ability to now fund not one, but three additional research grants this year in the name of Elliot Bernstein."
The proceeds of the fundraiser will be used to fund $40,000 research grants as part of the Brian D. Novis Research Grant Program. Created in memory of IMF founder Brian D. Novis, the grants promote and support research into better treatment, management, prevention and a cure for multiple myeloma. One of the primary purposes of the Brian D. Novis Research Grant is to provide seed money for innovative projects with the hope that the projects selected will be so promising, they will attract additional funding for further study of the topic area. The research grants will be awarded on December 4, 1999 in New Orleans at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting.