In 1998 Elliot Recht felt that he was in the best health and shape of his life. Then he received shocking news; he was diagnosed with cancer, Multiple Myeloma. Like many others, Elliot had never heard of Myeloma before his own diagnosis. He felt compelled to learn, and learn as much as he could. Diagnosed on a Wednesday; on Thursday he found the International Myeloma Foundation; on Friday he called the IMF’s Hotline and was provided information about the support group in San Diego that was started by Fred and Virginia Gloor. The group’s monthly meeting was scheduled for the upcoming Monday night. Less than a week after his diagnosis, Elliot attended his first group meeting. He was grateful to so quickly find a local community of support. Elliot’s Volunteer Leadership for the San Diego support group from 2006 to 2012
"It’s important to educate ourselves, share information, and learn about resources."
When the San Diego Multiple Myeloma Support Group was founded almost 17 years ago, the first meeting had five people in attendance. From those humble beginnings, the group has grown to approximately 300 patients and caregivers. For the past six years, Elliot served as the support group leader and appreciated the “thank you emails” he received after successful meetings. He was able to help new, overwhelmed members—like he once was—become more relaxed and comfortable. More than fourteen years later, that community of support remains an integral part of his life. Support Group recognized in 2009, 2010, & 2011 as Health Care Champion Under Elliot’s leadership, the San Diego Multiple Myeloma Support Group was a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s Health Care Champion Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Health Care Champions is an event that recognizes individuals and/or organizations in the County of San Diego health care industry that are making a significant impact on a person’s quality of health care. Elliot said, “It’s been a tremendous honor, not only to be nominated, but to be a finalist. We’re competing with prestigious and well established health care organizations from throughout the city.” Advocacy for cancer patients In 2011, Elliot took up advocacy and was able to meet with members of United States Congress to explain the importance of HR 2746, The Cancer Coverage Parity Act of 2011, along with other issues for cancer patients. In 2012, Elliot joined an advocacy committee with other blood cancer patients and continues to educate himself on legislative issues. He plans to schedule meetings with other US Representatives to encouraging them to support programs and bills that benefit cancer patients’ lives. In His Words
“Our meetings are open to patients, family and friends, caregivers, health care professionals and anyone with questions about Myeloma. Fred and Virginia Gloor established the foundation for our group and I was very fortunate to have their support when I was newly diagnosed. I tried to build on what they started.
I coordinated the meetings, arranged the speakers, contacted news media, communicated with health care professionals and sent out monthly emails to our members. We now have 40 to 50 people at our monthly meetings; at special meetings that feature dinner and speakers, we usually have 90 to 120 people in attendance. With a focus on education about Myeloma, I have been able to arrange for Myeloma specialists and others with expertise about Myeloma-related topics speak with our group. In addition, we have a number of long-term survivors among us, who encourage members who have been recently diagnosed.
The group is very fortunate to have had and looks to in the future the International Myeloma Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as group sponsors. We also received much appreciated support from Celgene, Oynx and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, as well as RosArt Multimedia and continuing support from the Fred and Virginia Gloor Estate.
“Through my many years of volunteer leadership, I hope I was able to help you and your families navigate through this disease we share.”
- Elliot Recht