Ferraro Advocated for Myeloma Patients

Lindsay Ray

CURE, Summer 2011, Volume 10, Issue 2

Ferraro Advocated for Myeloma Patients

New York native Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman to run for U.S. vice president for a major political party, died March 26 from complications related to multiple myeloma.

Ferraro had a long political career, having served in Congress for three terms before running for vice president on the Democratic ticket. She also served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission during the Clinton administration and worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination campaign in 2008.

But Ferraro campaigned in another way, as well. Diagnosed in 1998, she became an advocate for myeloma patients and survivors, going public with her illness and appearing before Congress in 2001 for hearings on the Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act. She was also an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, 33, received a diagnosis of stage 1 germ cell ovarian cancer after an annual checkup. She had surgery to remove the tumor and underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy. Miller is the most decorated U.S. gymnast, with seven Olympic medals and nine world championship medals, including being part of the “Magnificent Seven,” the only U.S. women’s gymnastics team to win Olympic gold.

Acclaimed director Sidney Lumet, 86, died April 9 from complications related to lymphoma. Lumet directed such films as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Network and received an honorary Academy Award in 2005 for his body of work.

TIME magazine has included The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s founder and CEO Kathy Giusti on its 2011 Time 100 list of most influential people in the world. Giusti was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1998 at the age of 37 and soon after created the foundation. The MMRF has helped in getting four drugs for multiple myeloma approved within four years, including Velcade (bortezomib) and Revlimid (lenalidomide) . In addition, Giusti went on to start the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium, which focuses on phase 1 and 2 clinical trials.

Accomplished Norwegian runner Grete Waitz, 57, died April 19 in Oslo, Norway from cancer. A nine-time New York City Marathon winner from 1978 to 1988, Waitz won gold at the world championships in 1983 and took home the silver medal in the first women’s marathon event at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Waitz never publicly disclosed the nature of her cancer, but worked for others with cancer, establishing Aktiv Mot Kreft, Active Against Cancer, in her native Norway. Waitz ran her last NYC Marathon in 1992, joining friend, fellow cancer patient and marathon builder Fred Lebow.

TV on the Radio bassist Gerard Smith, 36, died from lung cancer on April 20, just a month after the group announced that Smith had been diagnosed and was being treated for cancer. Smith joined the critically-acclaimed art rock group in 2005 and contributed to the group’s latest album, Nine Types of Light. The band canceled a number of shows following the bassist’s death.