We are international

The phrase "People Helping People" is a cornerstone of the IMF. This concept rings loud and clear with members of the more than 60 multiple myeloma support groups that we work with around the world.

Unfortunately, many states do not have a support group designed specifically for multiple myeloma patients. Patients and caregivers in these states often have the option of participating in a ?blood cancer? or ?general cancer? support group, but those of us who participate in myeloma-specific support groups understand the importance of being able to communicate with fellow myeloma patients and caregivers.

The IMF is reaching out to our members in hopes that people will choose to start and lead a myeloma support group in their area. While it may seem like a big job, there are many ways we can help, including:

? How to Start a Myeloma Support Group
This step-by-step guide, written by Peter Tischler (leader of the North Texas MM Support Group), outlines the steps he took to get things going, how he led his first meeting, and provides samples of fliers, sign-in sheets, group rosters and more. You can download these materials at http:///www.myeloma.org from the People Helping People section or request a copy by calling (800) 452-CURE.

? Support from the IMF
If you are interested in forming a group, but aren?t sure if there are members in your area, the IMF can reach out to the local myeloma community, announce that a group is being considered, and ask IMFers to contact you if they are interested. This way, you can better judge the need for a group, and you may even find other patients and caregivers to help get things started. Remember ? a group does not need to be big to be supportive. A successful meeting can consist of 3-5 people meeting for coffee and conversation. Many of our larger support groups started out that way.

? Information from the IMF
Supporting myeloma groups is one of my favorite responsibilities to the IMF. Each month I gather new information related to the myeloma and cancer communities and send to all the support group leaders. Topics range from research updates and clinical trials, to resources for caregivers and kids and discounted air travel outlets for cancer patients. My goal is to make your job as a support group leader a little easier.

? Yearly Support Group Leader Retreat
For the past two years, the IMF has held an annual conference for support group leaders. The purpose of the meeting is for leaders to meet and interact while attending and participating in presentations related to myeloma and group facilitation.

? Support from ?Veteran Leaders?
Many groups have been in existence for years and their leaders are more than happy to lend support to newbies. A support group can be different things to different people. While some groups plan agendas, invite guest speakers, organize advocacy and fundraising activities, others prefer to chat casually. There is no ?right? or ?wrong? ? most people simply value the opportunity to interact with fellow myeloma patients and caregivers.

At present, there are 26 states without myeloma-specific support groups (see list below). Our goal is to help create at least one myeloma support group in every state. We hope you?ll choose to help us meet this goal. If you would like to learn more about forming a support group, please call me at (818) 452-2873 ext. 224 or contact me via e-mail at scolman@myeloma.org. As always, we thank you for your support of the myeloma community and of the IMF.

The following states currently do not have any myeloma-specific support groups that we know of. If you know of a myeloma support group in one of these areas or wish to start one, please let us know:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Oregon, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

 related articles