Frank (Fenix) Theuerkorn, a multiple myeloma survivor, will be among those taking part in the Multiple Myeloma March on Sept. 7. Pictured here, Theuerkorn, front, and daughter Nikki at the inaugural march in March 2018. (Submitted photo)

Nanaimo professor raising awareness about rare blood cancer

Socially distanced Vancouver Island Multiple Myeloma March to take place on Labour Day

A Vancouver Island University professor will be among those marching to raise awareness – and money for research – for an incurable form of blood cancer.

Multiple myeloma is “a little-known cancer of the plasma cells,” according to a press release. The Multiple Myeloma March is set take place on Sept. 7 and Frank (Fenix) Theuerkorn, a VIU professor in the management department, will be taking part to help others who have been diagnosed.

After suffering severe, debilitating pain in his ribs and a year of testing, Theuerkorn was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2017, stated the press release. The 54-year-old said he had mixed emotions after being diagnosed. On one hand, he felt relief as he finally knew what was ailing him and on the other hand, he was upset.

Following extensive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, Theuerkorn learned that that transplant was successful and he was in remission. He resumed teaching that same year, saying he didn’t want to lose connection with his students and that teaching gave him a sense of purpose.

Theuerkorn experienced some health-related anxiety this past February when vacationing on Palawan Island in the Philippines. The government there closed the borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Theuerkorn was stranded for three months and worried, as he had not brought enough medication. Fortunately he was able to return home in May.

Theuerkorn has first-hand knowledge of how advancements in myeloma research can have “life-changing impact” on the lives of those living with the form of incurable cancer, and now, more than ever, he and his family are intent on raising awareness, said the press release. He also hopes to help others receive faster diagnoses and provide inspiration for people living with the disease.

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This year’s Vancouver Island Multiple Myeloma March, originally scheduled for March, will adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and will see participants walking in their own neighbourhoods, with registration on Zoom beginning at 9 a.m. on Sept. 7.

Organizers hope to raise $35,000 and a minimum of 50 per cent of money raised will go to Myeloma Canada’s Myeloma Research Priority Setting Partnership, said the press release.

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