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IU Simon Cancer Center Doc/Researcher Rides 200 Miles to Raise Awareness for Multiple Myeloma

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Rafat Abonour, M.D., an oncologist and researcher at the IU Simon Cancer Center, and a group of cyclists will begin their ride in Jeffersonville on Friday, Oct. 21. From there, Dr. Abonour and the cyclists will travel through the Indiana communities of Charlestown, New Washington, Hanover, Madison, Versailles, St. Peter, Brookville, and Liberty. They will stay overnight in Richmond.

On Saturday, Oct. 22, they travel through Dublin, Charlottesville, Greenfield, Philadelphia, and Cumberland before arriving in Indianapolis.

For Dr. Abonour, this is the seventh consecutive year he has set out on his bike for Miles for Myeloma, an annual cycling tour. Dr. Abonour’s Miles for Myeloma raises awareness and research funds for multiple myeloma (pronounced mahy-uhloh-muh), an incurable blood cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 20,520 new cases will be diagnosed in 2011 and about 10,610 deaths are expected this year.

To date, Dr. Abonour has raised nearly $1.5 million for multiple myeloma research. All of the funds are used by researchers at the IU Simon Cancer Center.

Each year, Dr. Abonour takes on a grueling ride – and sometimes a bike ride coupled with a long-distance run – because he knows myeloma patients endure so much every day with their disease.

A person with myeloma, according to Dr. Abonour, is typically around 60 years old. The cancer accumulates in bone marrow, weakening the bones and causing osteoporosis, anemia and kidney failure. Myeloma also leaves people susceptible to infections because their immune system has been weakened.

“We have to do more for people diagnosed with myeloma,” he said. “It’s so disheartening that we can’t cure these people. I think the mission is to find out why we can’t cure them – and change that.”

Finish-line celebration is Oct. 22 in downtown Indy

Miles for Myeloma: Tour for Tomorrows ends with a finish-line celebration at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 in front of University Place Hotel, 850 W. Michigan St., on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. More than 350 myeloma patients and family members are expected to gather to watch the trek end. All are welcome to attend.