When a nationwide search was launched for people ?who are an inspiration to others? to carry the Olympic flame to the Salt Lake 2002 winter games, Washington D.C. area patients with incurable cancer saw their chance to say ?thank you!? to a remarkable cancer doctor who sustains them.
?This nomination is my statement!? asserted Cynthia Weglicki, a Maryland patient. ?I may have Multiple Myeloma, but I'm still going to live! We cannot run the relays ourselves - but because of him today we can walk! Let Philip Greipp carry the torch for us!? Her call became a rallying cry for patients nationwide, many severely impaired, who launched an Internet and letter writing campaign with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
Dr. Philip R. Greipp, Director of Hematology Research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is a familiar and much loved face to myeloma patients across America. Modern treatment and early diagnosis have extended the survival of some 50,000 Americans with myeloma. Finding a cure for the disease is a life goal of this determined doctor, who is Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo. But Philip Greipp is also a patient's doctor. He is ?always there? for them, encouraging and helping them to lead productive lives, and there for physicians who care for them in their local community.
Three U.S. Multiple Myeloma foundations quickly joined the effort to nominate the internationally known hematologist ? the IMF, MMRF and Goldman Philanthropic Partnerships. ?Doctor Phil? indeed became one of 11,500 torchbearers chosen out of 210,000 nominations across the country to carry the Olympic flame. On a 26-degree January night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the 59-year-old physician carried the torch in a five block uphill relay for a wildly cheering crowd of family and friends.
Few of those who nominated him could withstand the Northern trip into below freezing temperatures to watch the event, so the three foundations created banners signed by patients that were carried to Milwaukee. Patients, family and banners greeted him as he passed the flame and 10,000 jubilant Milwaukeeans continued the celebration into the night with ?Dr. Phil? and other torchbearers.
Patient involvement is continuing nationwide. A photo website has been created by Dr. Greipp's son, Dan, to enable them to view and share in events of the relay. Patient advocacy days in Washington are already forming in support of cancer legislation pending in Congress. HR 2629, a bill to further research in blood cancers has already passed the Senate and has wide Congressional support.
So the light of hope for a cure and a better quality of life is bright today because patients with incurable cancer wanted to make a difference, and because a committed doctor shared their dream.