COMEDIAN AND ACTOR RAY ROMANO recently hosted a star-studded comedy event whose proceeds are supporting the work of the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF). The night’s performers also included Hannibal Buress, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser, Robert Klein, Marc Maron, Kumail Nanjiani, Iliza Shlesinger and Fred Willard.
The annual Los Angeles event was launched 11 years ago in honor of Romano’s Everybody Loves Raymond costar, Peter Boyle, who died of the rare blood cancer multiple myeloma in 2006. Boyle’s wife, Loraine, helped conceive the Annual Comedy Celebration and remains involved in running it. About 1,000 people attended on Nov. 4, 2017, generating $600,000; since its inception, the event has raised $7 million, said Randi Lovett, the IMF’s senior director of development.
The money helps fund the IMF’s Black Swan Initiative, which discovered and validated a way to detect traces of cancer that remain in a patient’s bone marrow after myeloma treatment, Lovett said. While 20 percent of patients treated for myeloma will not experience a relapse after 10 years, there’s no way to verify more immediately that they have been cured. The initiative’s goal is to make that possible, Lovett said, so that survivors don’t have to live with uncertainty or undergo potentially unnecessary maintenance treatments and the accompanying financial and physical costs.
Patients and their caregivers can call the IMF’s information line at 800-452- 2873 to learn about treatments and side effects, or for emotional support. To find out about opportunities to donate to the comedy celebration or other IMF programs, visit myeloma.org/get-involved.
“Everything we do is to take care of patients and caregivers,” Lovett said. “We want them to know they’re not alone.”