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Running Towards a Cure for Multiple Myeloma

Running Towards a Cure for Multiple Myeloma
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Published on August 5, 2020

Physical Activity is an Important Part of Cancer Therapy

You might say Kenny Capps was running for his life. In 2018, the lifelong endurance athlete ran 1,175 miles in 54 days across the length of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in North Carolina to raise awareness and funds for the disease he’d been diagnosed with a few years earlier, multiple myeloma.

In an eye-popping Patient Power article about his cancer odyssey, Kenny takes you along for his run, (basically a marathon per day!), starting from Jockey’s Ridge State Park in the Outer Banks.

Jockey’s Ridge is the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast and a popular location for hang-gliding, flying kites, and soaking in glorious sunsets — it is breathtaking to visit. I have a new-found appreciation for this amazing run, having run my first race, a trail run over streams and through the woods in southern Maryland, earlier this year.

Overcoming Obstacles to Find a Cure for Multiple Myeloma

Exercise as a Part of Cancer Therapy

Kenny founded Throwing Bones, a non-profit group, named after one of his favorite Grateful Dead songs, to keep the momentum going on awareness and fundraising on all blood cancers. The organization hosts educational events and races throughout the year to help patients and their friends and families stay connected.1

On August 10, Throwing Bones hosted an online discussion featuring experts in oncology, physical therapy, exercise physiology, sports medicine and health coaching. Patient Power attended and will have a recap posted soon.

“This is really an opportunity to bring people together to talk about the value of exercise,” Kenny said, emphasizing the importance of exercise being prescribed at the time of diagnosis, not as an aside, or an afterthought.

“You may only walk to the mailbox and back, but that’s a start. The next day, you may walk a little farther, and then around the block.” Small steps lead to big gains.

But First, What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in your bone marrow. It can cause infections, bone lesions, immune system dysfunction, and disrupt kidney function, as Dr. Paul Richardson from Dana Farber Cancer Institute explained in a recent Patient Power Ask the Expert video.

Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer diagnosis, after non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), in the United States. This year, approximately 32,270 adults in the U.S. will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).2

Multiple Myeloma Symptoms

One of the confounding factors about cancer diagnoses is that the symptoms may seem like other typical ailments. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are some symptoms that are related to multiple myeloma.3

  • Bone pain, especially in your spine or chest
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental fogginess or confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness or numbness in your legs
  • Excessive thirst

Kenny knew to see his doctor when he had flu-like symptoms, which eventually led to blood work that looked concerning. The message here is to keep pursuing your health until you have an answer. Being your own advocate is critical.

Continuing the Chase for a CureBone Marrow Transplant

Dr. Bart Scott, of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, explains the difference between stem cell transplants and bone marrow transplants.

“Allogeneic transplants (from your own cells) and autologous transplants (from a donor, often a sibling), they’re all stem cell transplants, and stem cell is kind of the overlying term and the bone marrow refers to the method in which the stem cells are collected,” he said in an exclusive Patient Power interview.

Exercise as Healing Therapy

There are times, like when platelet levels are so low that exercise is not recommended for multiple myeloma patients. Once your levels even out, most doctors will encourage exercise.

Kenny paused his exercise routine briefly while going through his treatments, which was challenging for someone who lives and breathes exercise. Kenny found solace when he was finally cleared to lace up his running shoes, attack mountain roads on a bike or stretch out for a swim.

“It’s important for pain management, mental health, and optimal health to prepare for whatever this life throws at us. Cancer and chemotherapy are only some of the things we all encounter,” Kenny said.

After undergoing treatment and a grueling bone marrow transplant, he is now on maintenance therapy, with periodic check-ups with his oncology teams, and is training for multiple races.

Encouraging cancer patientsBlood Cancer Patients Need to Keep Moving Forward

When Kenny’s not raising awareness for hematological malignancies, he’s raising heart rates as an online personal trainer and coach, and through Throwing Bones is spreading inspiration and education that purposeful movement is part of cancer therapy.

“I want to bring in trainers with cancer and trauma awareness,” he said, acknowledging that patients with blood and other cancers may have different needs and aches and pains than your average person at the gym.

Throwing Bones is helping individuals living with blood cancer with their planned self-assessment series and Cancer Active Coaching Network. With so many online opportunities right now, it seems like the perfect time to expand the organization’s offerings.

Kenny’s message to “keep moving forward” rings true. Cancer patients need encouragement and a message of hope to take the next step.

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~ Lauren Evoy Davis


References:

1Multiple Myeloma Statistics. Cancer.Net

2Throwing Bones. throwing-bones.org/event/cancer-active-education-series-exercise-as-a-part-of-cancer-therapy/

3Multiple Myeloma Symptoms and Causes. Mayo Clinic. 

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