Zionsville Times Sentinel

County

February 8, 2012

Walk a day in her shoes

Lebanon resident Carrie Beard is in the middle of the toughest walk of her life, fighting multiple myeloma.

Last fall, Beard received the diagnosis of multiple myeloma and she is undergoing treatment at the Indiana University Cancer Center. In an effort to financially assist the family with the ongoing medical expenses, a benefit dinner, auction and raffle are being coordinated by family, friends and community volunteers.

The Carrie’s Crusade benefit will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the American Legion, 1020 Hendricks Drive, Lebanon. The dinner will include pork barbeque, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, tea, lemonade and a dessert. The cost to attend the dinner is $10 per person. Themed sponsorship tables for eight people are available for $250. In addition to the dinner, there will be a live auction and raffle of an electronic tablet.

Carrie’s Crusaders intend for this fundraiser to be more than a financial fundraiser; they also want to  educate the community about multiple myeloma. According to the American Cancer Society “multiple myeloma is a cancer in the plasma cells in the bone marrow. The plasma cells multiply too fast and don’t shut off reproduction when they should. Instead of producing antibodies to fight infection, myeloma cells develop useless antibodies called monoclonal or M protein. Like weeds in a garden, these overabundant myeloma cells overtake the immune system and disrupt the continual process of bone remodeling. Myeloma is relatively rare and the vast majority of patients are men, over the age of 65 and African Americans.”

Carrie does not fit one of the three average statistics, so treatment and rehabilitation are not of the norm either.

Multiple myeloma has no cure, but it is treatable. With continued advances in medical treatment, patients are living longer and 40 percent of all patients survive five years post-treatment. Ten years ago, the patient survival rate was 10 percent. Beard recently underwent an autologous bone marrow transplant as part of her treatment regimen. The process of transplantation involved harvesting  her own stem cells from her bone marrow and storing them for later use. She then received very high doses of chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells in her body; next her stored cells were re-infused into her body, allowing the infused cells to begin producing new cancer-free cells.  Beard will remain in isolation until her immune system recovers.

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