Last week, the IMF partnered with Amgen and the world of baseball in a pair of high-profile myeloma awareness activities marking September as Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Here in Los Angeles, IMF Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Mikhael joined L.A. Dodger great Steve Garvey to take a myeloma awareness message to the media. A few days later, in Houston, myeloma patient Michael Tuohy did the IMF proud, throwing out an excellent ceremonial first pitch at the Houston Astros game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Increasing myeloma awareness among baseball fans and encouraging patients to create a game plan to tackle their disease are the top goals of Amgen’s newly launched Myeloma MVP program, and the IMF was pleased to help drive home those messages at an array of local and national media outlets:
Interviewed on KCAL’s “News at Noon,” Steve Garvey described himself, Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield, and Don Baylor, Jr. as “foot soldiers” in a campaign to encourage patients to form a team to help fight myeloma. As Dr. Mikhael explained, “Unfortunately, it’s still is a very challenging disease. Being able to partner with one’s healthcare provider using this [MVP] tool, really helps patients individualize the treatments for them.”
Multiple myeloma accounts for just around one to two percent of all cancers, which is why many are not familiar with it, Dr. Mikhael told the baseball blog Dodger Blue. Steve Garvey said that personal experience prompted his involvement in the campaign, citing his father-in-law, who passed away from myeloma, along with the opportunity to work alongside the son of a fellow baseball legend, Don Baylor, who succumbed to the disease as well.
“We’re blessed in that we have all these treatment options we didn’t used to have in myeloma,” Dr. Mikhael said on Doctor Radio. “And in a day in which we see greater patient involvement, we’re going to see patients do better.”
To make sure he brought his game to Houston, Michael Tuohy—whose wife Robin Tuohy is IMF Senior Director of Support Groups—practiced pitching to the couple’s son, Mikey.
Game Day brought out a lively group of fans to cheer him on: 35 members of two IMF-affiliated local myeloma support groups filled a special box sponsored by Amgen.
Hard to tell if Michael’s pitch and the enthusiasm of the myeloma support group members’ box had anything to do with it, but the Astros won their game, 5-4.