During the summer of 2016, Wendy Wolitski, a registered nurse, began experiencing unexplained nosebleeds and a sudden surge in her blood pressure.

Wendy was prescribed medication for the high blood pressure and her life settled back down—for a little while.

Then, in September 2017, Wendy’s instincts told her something wasn’t right. She was referred to a hematologist and underwent a biopsy that would soon confirm Wendy had multiple myeloma, or myeloma, a little-known and as of yet, incurable blood cancer that 11 Canadians are diagnosed with every day. She was 61 years old. 

As a licensed nurse, Wendy was familiar with myeloma, but she did not have an in-depth understanding of the disease.

“Learning about the reality of what lay ahead brought me to tears,” Wendy recalls. “I had no idea that myeloma was the second most common form of blood cancer. I immediately knew this would be a tough, life-long battle.”

In November 2017, Wendy c began receiving chemotherapy to prepare her for a stem cell transplant, a procedure that is often effective in controlling the disease. Despite experiencing side effects, the treatment was effective. Wendy underwent the stem cell transplant in May 2018, and although it was a tough road to recovery, the procedure was a success. Wendy was finally in remission. Since then, she has been receiving maintenance therapy that is helping keep her cancer at bay.

Wendy, now retired, is thankful for her family and friends who have been her rock throughout her entire battle.

While Wendy understands there are many uncertainties that come with a cancer diagnosis, she counts her blessings and is thankful to have been diagnosed early. “After hearing stories of what some other patients have gone through, I realize that I’ve been very fortunate in my journey,” Wendy acknowledges. “It’s very common for those suffering with myeloma to experience broken bones and severe pain, so I consider myself very lucky that we were able to identify the problem before those complications could arise,” she adds.  

Since Wendy received her myeloma diagnosis early, she was able to start the critical treatments she needs to help her live as long and full a life as possible. Not everyone is as fortunate. A myeloma diagnosis can take anywhere from three months to years. Because signs and symptoms are often vague and as diverse as the people who have it, the disease often goes undetected. Sadly, delays in diagnosis can lead to poorer prognosis and additional complications that negatively impact quality of life and survival.  

“Raising funds and awareness for myeloma research is crucial. It allows for quicker diagnosis, which, for me, has played a big part in allowing me to enjoy a relatively normal life,” says Wendy. “Although myeloma currently has no cure, an early diagnosis greatly enhances the likelihood of a successful future and the opportunity for a second lease on life,” she adds.

Eager to give back to the community and do her part in finding a cure for myeloma, Wendy, along with her family, is gearing up to raise awareness and funds at the 6th annual Saskatoon Multiple Myeloma March, taking place on September 24, 2023, at 2:30 p.m., at the Zion Lutheran Church.

“Countless Canadians may not receive their myeloma diagnosis for months or sometimes years. This has to change,” says Martine Elias, Executive Director of Myeloma Canada. “That’s why events like the Saskatoon Multiple Myeloma March are so crucial. The more people who know about this complicated disease, the earlier they may be diagnosed and treated, for better outcomes. The March raises awareness and vital funds to improve the lives of Canadians impacted by myeloma and move us closer to a cure.”

The Multiple Myeloma March raises funds to cure and prevent myeloma through investments in Canadian research, accelerate equitable access to the best healthcare and treatments, and improve lives by empowering and supporting all Canadians affected by this devastating disease. 

The Saskatoon Multiple Myeloma March is one of 40 communities across the country participating in Myeloma Canada’s 15th annual nation-wide event. For Canadians not located near a physical March or who wish to participate on their own, there is also a virtual March option. The Saskatoon event has set their financial goal at $15,000. Myeloma Canada’s national Multiple Myeloma March objective is to raise $750,000.

Multiple myeloma is the second most common form of blood cancer. Myeloma affects a type of immune cell called the plasma cell, found in the bone marrow. While there is currently no cure, people with myeloma are living longer and better lives, thanks to recent breakthroughs in treatment. To find a cure, more funding and research are required. To learn more, or to donate, please visit www.myeloma.ca.