Dear Support Group Leaders,
As you know, myeloma patients have compromised immune systems. For this reason, they are highly vulnerable to new infections. Dr. Durie explains that the COVID-19 coronavirus currently spreading in communities across the U.S. poses a special danger. For full coverage of the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and precautions to take, visit the Centers for Disease Control advisory page here.
For 30 years, the paramount concern of the IMF has been the health and safety of myeloma patients and caregivers. With that duty in mind, and out of an abundance of caution, the IMF is suggesting that support group leaders consider canceling in person meetings for the month of March.
If groups wish to meet online, instead of in person, the IMF can help. The IMF will be able to help you arrange meetings via conference call using either Skype or GoToMeeting. Please contact your Support Group Director, Nancy Bruno, Kelly Cox, Kelly Sidorowicz, Jon Fitzpatrick, or me for details.
We will help you to inform your group members of meeting cancellations by posting an alert on each group’s website and to contact the group’s leader for details.
For additional updates on COVID-19 coronavirus, please see Dr. Brian G.M. Durie’s recent blogs:
February 28 – Click here: Coronavirus and myeloma patient Safety
March 5 – Click here: COVID-19 coronavirus update
March 12 - Click here: Coronavirus Crisis Point in America: FAQ for Myeloma Patients
March 14 - Click here: 2020 Patient and Family Webinar
Vice President, Support Groups
We have facilitated a network of 150 myeloma-specific support groups that hold regular meetings in the U.S. So no matter where you are, we can help you find or create a multiple myeloma support group and connect with other survivors and caregivers.
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Robin Tuohy worked as a paralegal for over 10 years at a Fortune 500 company before marrying Michael, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2000, and having children Ally and Mikey. She became involved with the IMF and attended Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, in 2001, and then began the first support group for multiple myeloma patients in Connecticut with the help of the IMF. She feels her experience as Michael's caregiver gives her a unique perspective on multiple myeloma. The Tuohy family carried their message of life after diagnosis across the country in 2007 on the Myeloma Mobile. Robin's motto is "The purpose of life is a life of purpose," and she hopes that she is able to help others dealing with multiple myeloma.
Kelly Cox spearheads IMF’s Regional Community Workshops, events that bring the most cutting-edge research and top multiple myeloma doctors to patients, caregivers, and healthcare workers across the country. Kelly also works closely with 40 support groups nationwide, carrying the IMF’s mission directly to those affected by multple myeloma. Kelly brings enthusiasm and energy to multiple myeloma awareness and outreach wherever he travels for personal visits, as well as via phone calls and emails.
Kelly worked for Warner Bros. International Television for three years prior to arriving at the IMF. He specialized in marketing, product management, and international placement for shows such as “Friends,” “E.R.” and “Smallville,” among others. Prior to this Kelly was involved with fundraising for specialized research into diseases of the retina, including macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
Nancy Bruno has been active in Support Groups since shortly after her husband Mike was diagnosed with mulitple myeloma in late 1998. What began as comprehensive note-taking during support group meetings led to her becoming a writer for the group’s newsletter. When Andy Lebkuecher’s wife, Cathy, died in December 2006, Andy asked Nancy to lead their local Atlanta group temporarily, "and I haven’t stopped." Her energy and commitment will continue as Regional Director of Support Groups.
Jon Fitzpatrick worked with the IMF for several years as a volunteer before joining our team as the Support Group Coordinator. He is excited to turn his passion for helping others into a career. Jon’s interest in working closely with multiple myeloma patients and caregivers was sparked as a result of his experience in the field of emergency response.
Kelley Sidorowicz joined the IMF’s Support Group team in 2019 after previously being part of the Advocacy team since 2016, working on federal and state policy issues as well as helping the IMF to grow our grassroots network. Previously, she worked in the health and wellness community as a certified health and wellness educator, personal trainer, and yoga instructor. Kelley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Frostburg State University. She resides in Southern Maryland.
Support groups bring together myeloma patients, caregivers, family members & friends. Patients involved in a support group experience more positive outcomes due to their understanding of treatment options and enables them to have key conversations with their healthcare team.
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