Couple shares story of blood cancer to raise awareness for Myeloma Action Month

Crystal Cranmore Image
Friday, March 29, 2024
Couple shares story to raise awareness for Myeloma Action Month
Crystal Cranmore has more on the Green family's personal journey with cancer.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- One couple is speaking out about their personal journey with cancer to help raise awareness this Myeloma Action Month.

More than 36,000 Americans get this type of blood cancer each year and more than 12,000 die from it.

The National Cancer Institute says the five-year survival rate is about 60%.

"I saw the life like drained from his face and I went over to him and I just whispered in his ear, I said, 'if you want to live, you got to fight,'" said Toni Green.

The words of encouragement came as her husband, Terrence Green, spent nearly two weeks in the hospital in October 2014 - fighting what doctors thought at the time was pneumonia.

His condition worsened by the day and a bone marrow aspiration would later reveal he had multiple myeloma.

The couple had already been through it before six years earlier when Terrence was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"I viewed it like a prize fight, like first round one, OK, winner, Terrence," Terence said. "And that just kept me emotionally strong."

The cancer weakened his bones, causing them to develop holes.

He's not yet in remission but his doctors say he is doing well.

"Some days I have good days and some days I have to lay down," he said.

According to the International Myeloma Foundation, one in every five patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the U.S. is Black.

It's why the Greens are sharing their story in honor of Myeloma Action Month.

"I was disappointed to learn that so many African Americans with this disease, they end up dying because they aren't aware of the resources," Toni said.

Symptoms like pain, fatigue and a low red blood cell count can often mimic other health issues.

"The average person sees their primary care provider three times before a diagnosis is made, that's even longer in African American and Latino American populations," said Dr. Joseph Mikhael, Chief Medical Officer of the International Myeloma Foundation. "Although we are getting deeper and more durable remissions, inevitably the disease will come back in all patients."

Terrence works out almost daily and chooses to focus on the positive. His sense of humor and the support of his family are his guiding light in the fight against cancer.

"Episodes in your life like this, they either break you apart or pull you together," Terrence said.

For additional resources, please visit the International Myeloma Foundation.

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