Miles for Myeloma Event Set for This Weekend
Nov. 1, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - During Saturday's Indiana football game against Ball State, the Hoosiers will welcome Dr. Rafat Abonour in the 2007 Miles for Myeloma event. Abonour will cover 117 miles on foot and bike in his two-day trek with the end of his first leg coming at Memorial Stadium just before kickoff on Nov. 3.
For the past two years, Abonour - an avid amateur marathon runner and an oncologist and researcher with the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center - has put his body to the test to raise money for his research devoted to finding a cure for multiple myeloma.
This year's event takes him from Indianapolis to Bloomington, Ind., and back. Dubbed the Bloomington Boomerang, this year's Miles for Myeloma begins at midnight on Nov. 3 outside the Indiana Cancer Pavilion in downtown Indianapolis. Twelve hours later, he'll run through a human tunnel formed by patients, their families and friends, and others prior to the game against Ball State, slated for kickoff at noon EDT.
The next day, he'll head back to Indianapolis, biking a different route until he gets back to the Indiana Cancer Pavilion. In all, his feet and bike tires will touch 117 miles of pavement.
His effort will touch many. Thanks to the fund-raising efforts of his patients, Abonour's Miles for Myeloma is on track to raise at least $250,000 this year. Patients and others supporting the event solicit the pledges and sponsorships from individuals and corporations.
In 2005, Abonour ran and biked more than 120 miles and raised $130,000. Last year, he ran and biked 140 miles and raised $245,000. All of the funds are used by researchers at the IU Simon Cancer Center.
While a fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Abonour followed some myeloma patients and was struck by how they dealt with an incurable disease.
"They were able to live with the fact that it's incurable. They were so faithful to the medical field and the caregiver and giving back more than I was giving them," he explained. "I was rewarded by a lot of admiration and respect. Every myeloma patient I have met has been the same. They always give you back more than you give them."
A person with myeloma, according to Abonour, is typically in their 60s. The cancer, which strikes about 17,000 people annually, accumulates in bone marrow, weakening the bones and causing osteoporosis, anemia, and kidney failure. Myeloma also leaves people susceptible to infections because their immune system has been weakened.
Thanks to people like Abonour - an impassioned researcher and physician -- myeloma patients can expect to live five to 10 years after an initial diagnosis. It is his affection for his patients that drives him to make further inroads against the disease.
"We're still losing patients," he said. "It's disheartening that we can't cure these people. I think the mission is to find out why we can't cure them."
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