Get the facts on multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a rare type of blood cancer that disproportionately impacts Black people. Because it’s uncommon and because of challenges within the healthcare system, MM is often overlooked—especially in Black people. As a result, the disease can go undetected until it has already progressed and spread through the body.

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A promise to ourselves and one another

That’s My Word TM is all about making a promise—to ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. You can make a difference by raising awareness of MM, committing to routine checkups, and encouraging those who may be at risk to proactively seek out care.

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Do you know your MM risk factors?

Nobody looks out for our health better than we do. Our chances of developing MM are higher than other groups and it is important you are aware of factors that may put you or others at risk. Risk factors include:

  • Being older than 60
  • Having a close family member with MM
  • Being overweight

These are some of the risk factors that may increase your chance of developing MM, but they aren’t the only ones.

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It’s about awareness and regular checkups

Let’s face it—if we don’t feel sick, going to the doctor can fall to the bottom of our to-do list. It’s important to remember: just because you can’t always feel what’s happening in your body doesn’t mean something isn’t going on. 

We can live with multiple myeloma, especially if it’s caught early and treated. Like many diseases, the earlier it’s caught, the better the results.

It can be challenging to find MM early on since some people don’t feel symptoms until later stages. For others, the symptoms might be mild, could seem like signs of aging, or be disguised as other diseases with the same symptoms.That’s why we need to follow the 2 key steps for early detection—routine checkups with our doctor and being aware of MM signs and symptoms.

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Black men put up an armor. Whether it’s not getting checked out or [we] shy away from doing stuff for our health. I've made a point to do something personally. With the family history of my father and mother's side, I get checked out by the doctor regularly.

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— Justin Elam Ruff

Nephew of Guru, founding member of Gang Starr

In consideration of the time spent participating in this activity, Justin Elam Ruff was paid an honorarium by Janssen.
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Diagnosed with multiple myeloma, now what?

If your doctor tells you that you have MM, it can feel overwhelming. You might feel shock, fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, disbelief, and other things.

Like many things in life, there’s ways to move forward to turn our challenges into opportunities. It’s often in the presence of friends and family that strength and support are found. We are in this together.

There are steps we can take to navigate through this.

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Keeping healthy through self-advocacy

No one else can feel what’s happening in our bodies better than we can. So, nobody can speak on it better than we can—together and with one another.

Even if you think it might not matter, be vocal when something doesn’t feel right.

By speaking up for your health, you can help improve the well-being of our community.


Building your support team

Like any cancer, having multiple myeloma can take an emotional and physical toll. There are people in your life who are ready and willing to help if you ask.

Our MM journeys are much easier when we know whom to turn to and whom to lean on.