Our first President, Carol Westberg was diagnosed on September 28, 2004. At that time, there was no formal support group for patients and caregivers. With the encouragement of Dr. Bahlis and the efforts of a group of patients, a casual support group began to form. Early Patients and Caregivers gathered together to ask questions, share stories and be surrounded by people who understood the impacts of Myeloma. From these casual meetings, the Southern Alberta Myeloma Patient Society was formed and incorporated July 27, 2009. Key founding members included Peter and Nancy Chivilo, Sharyn and Landis Krause, Carol Westberg, Katie and Dave Hall, Bill Holt, Greg Garvin, Norma Gilbert and Catherine Suzanne.
The idea of hosting events to increase awareness of Multiple Myeloma resulted in the first Family Picnic in June 2008 and the Walk and Run in 2009. Both the Family Picnic and Walk & Run have continued annually since, with the 10th Annual Walk and Run set to take place in the summer of 2018. Calgary hosted the Myeloma Canada Conference in September 2009, and continued to host independent bi-annual conferences in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
While the original focus of the group was on support, education and awareness, fundraising initiatives began. The decision was made to direct funds to Dr. Bahlis in gratitude and recognition for his exemplary work and care of local patients. This funding was directed to ongoing research, which would improve outcomes for those living with myeloma, while honoring the dedication and passion of the local research team.
Support Group Members continued to work tirelessly to create an organization that would provide support to its members, educate people on the symptoms, effects and impacts of the disease and fund ongoing research to improve treatment outcomes.
We continue to pursue the vision established by Carol and our early members through ongoing Support Group Meetings, fundraising, education and events.