Not Alone with Cancer


Gilles Caron and family.


Cancer is no stranger to Ottawa families. While we’re often acquainted with the most common types— lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer—there are, in fact, many others.

Gilles Caron knows that all too well. When he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in June 2015, he had never heard of the little-known cancer. Incurable, it affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow. “I felt lonely,” the 66-year- old Ottawa resident explains. “And I needed to know more.”

His hematologist oncologist recommended he turn to Myeloma Canada’s website, So he did. And he discovered the charitable organization was created by and for people living with the disease. “From that day on, I no longer felt I was alone on my journey,” says Gilles. Along with learning about a community of patients like him, he became aware of the organization’s research efforts.

“In the early 2000s, the average life expectancy for myeloma patients was three to five years,” Gilles mentions. “With the help of Myeloma Canada and the research done in many Canadian hospitals, most patients now live much longer.”

During the month of September, the Multiple Myeloma March, Myeloma Canada’s signature fundraiser, was held in 16 communities across the country. Funds raised went to benefitting the Myeloma Canada Research Network (MCRN), a platform that connects world-class researchers in 24 centres across nine provinces. MCRN researchers hold clinical trials that give myeloma patients access to new drugs and therapies that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them, and that lead to improved outcomes. This year’s national fundraising goal was $500,000.

“Every day, seven Canadians are diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which is why there is a greater need for early awareness programs to promote timely diagnosis,” says Aldo Del Col, co-founder and chairman of Myeloma Canada.

Locally, the annual Steps to a Cure! Ottawa- Gatineau Walk for Myeloma happens each year in September. “The walk was a revelation for me. My family and many friends joined me and I had the opportunity to meet people who were experiencing the same things as me,” Gilles says, speaking of the 2016 event. “This cause is very important to me. It is through research that we will be able to find a cure.”

For details about the Ottawa-Gatineau Walk for Myeloma, visit


Latest Cancer Stats

Across the community, there are families just like Gilles’. Grandparents, parents, children and relatives are diagnosed each year and they must come to grips with terminology and treatments they’ve never heard of before. As the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) notes at, “Cancer is a general term for a group of over 200 related but different diseases.”

A new report, Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017, reveals about half of us will be diagnosed with some form or other. Although current tracking suggests one in four people will die of cancer, there’s positive news too. “About half of all cancers can be prevented and research continues to improve the outlook for people with cancer,” says Dr Leah Smith, CCS epidemiologist and one of the report’s authors. “Actions like quitting smoking, eating well, being physically active and practising sun safety, along with appropriate cancer screening tests, can go a long way to reducing your risk of getting cancer.”

Prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries, Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017 reveals these facts too:

-In 2017, an estimated 206,200 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).

-Since the peak in the cancer death rate in Canada in 1988, it is estimated that over 179,000 deaths have been avoided as a result of cancer prevention and control e orts.

– The five-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25 per cent in the 1940s to 60 per cent today. ◆


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