PAY IT FORWARD
The WMFC/IWMF was built on the strength of offering support to those living with Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia. One man reached out to another in the hope of finding someone who understood what he was going through.
That man was Arnie Smokler. He inspired people to pay it forward and that they did. I was one of those whom Arnie inspired 20 years ago. Slowly one by one a small group of people looked to their own communities for others diagnosed with WM, opened up their homes and gave a little of their time to bring everyone together. That is the essence of a support group, one person taking the lead for the benefit of others.
Today we are an elite group of 66 support groups worldwide for the newly diagnosed or those who feel isolated living with a rare disease.
Tomorrow we hope to double that number. You are our hope. As the number of people being diagnosed is rising due to increased awareness and improved testing you can make a difference not only in their lives but most importantly in your life.
It takes as little or as much time as you can give. This is not a job, it is what they today would call social networking, making new friends who speak your language. People who understand alkylating agents, B-cells, neutrophils, serum viscosity, IGM and watch and wait to name a few.
It is time for all of us to ask ourselves, “what I can do to make this world a little smaller and my world a little bigger.” Become a leader and reach out in your community. The need for new support groups is immeasurable whether there are 2 or 250 people. Just reaching out to one person alone can turn a life around.
To the leaders of the 66 groups who took that first step and reached out to that one person who became the second member of the group we thank you very much for carrying the Torch. As with all volunteers there is an expiration date and it will depend on the individual. In the relay of life the Torch needs to be passed on. If you have benefited from a group we need you to also step forward and take the lead for those who have given so much already.
With each new leader the group can take a new course and leaves behind a legacy to those they have touched by their belief in helping others.
This opportunity is open to everyone, family, and friends alike. You don’t have to be living with WM. A loved one, spouse, daughter, son, or close friend can take the lead and show how much they care and support that special someone in their life.
There are communities across Canada who need someone like you to open their home and invite those living with WM to share their experiences knowing they are not alone.
I did just that almost 20 years ago when I stared the first support group and the WM Foundation in Canada after my father passed away with WM to honour his memory and to do all that I can to protect my children’s future. My life has been enriched far beyond my expectations just knowing this amazing group of people who take on the challenges of WM with grace, laughter, and a strong will to live life to the fullest.
I thank each and every one for the privilege of being able to share their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams for the future.
Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation of Canada
Support Group Torchbearer –Oakville, Ontario
In Memory of Nick Carrick In Memory of Arnie Smokler