Gaining Control After Cancer Unleashes its Fury

College football anchor Rod Gilmore uses his voice to help raise awareness following a multiple myeloma diagnosis.

Rod Gilmore learned that he had multiple myeloma in July 2016 after going for a routine physical — something he had done for more than 25 years.

Although he debated going public about his diagnosis, the college football anchor felt that by speaking out he could possibly help raise awareness about early detection, especially for the African American community which is hit more than twice as much than white Americans by the incurable blood cancer.

“Getting all of the information was overwhelming and I knew I needed to figure out a plan and a way to get some control over things going forward,” Gilmore said in an interview with CURE®. “The first thing we did was figure out a personal plan. Over the years, I have had a number of friends who refuse annual physicals and I wanted people to know that they give you a fighting chance with a disease like this.”

To help his fight, Gilmore changed his diet and exercised around treatment days. He focused on his priorities: continuing to broadcast, practice law — Gilmore is an attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area — and remain as physically active as he could. “This all required the support of other people,” he said. “It took a lot of time and effort.”

Gilmore described his experience with trying to learn as much as he could about multiple myeloma like “drinking from a fire hose” — it was a lot to take in at once. In addition to speaking out about the disease, Gilmore also lends his time to the Myeloma MVP program, which was created by Amgen Oncology.

The program includes tools to help patients with multiple myeloma, which include how to map out their goals and preferences for managing the disease, identifying important questions to ask their doctor and create a personal plan to help manage their cancer.

“Having a plan gives you some sense of control in managing your life as opposed to having it completely controlled from the outside,” Gilmore said. “Cancer has changed what I focus on. It has changed how I spend my time and what people I focus on and how I include my family in things. Cancer changes all of that.”

Although multiple myeloma is considered a relatively uncommon cancer, more than 32,000 people will receive a diagnosis this year in the United States. It’s slightly more common in men than in women and typically affects people who are 65 years and older. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells that can grow out of control.

To raise awareness among patients and caregivers, Amgen works with work the multiple myeloma patient research and advocacy community, including the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the International Myeloma Foundation and Myeloma Crowd.

For Gilmore, he wishes there had been resources like the Myeloma MVP program when he first learned of his diagnosis. “For anyone newly diagnosed, having the sense of being involved in your care is important,” Gilmore said. “You want to participate to be the best advocate that you can be and have someone beside you to help with that.”