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IU Simon Cancer Center doc/researcher rides 200 miles to raise awareness for multiple myeloma

INDIANAPOLIS -- (October 12, 2011) -- An Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center doctor will soon lead a pack of bicyclists on a 200-mile journey to raise awareness of multiple myeloma.

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-uh-loh-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,” Dr. Abonour 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 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.

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Notes to editors: 

Past Miles for Myeloma events were: 

2010 Miles for Myeloma: Ride for Research: 235 miles by bike from Muncie, Hartford City, Fort Wayne, Logansport, Delphi, Lafayette, Lebanon, and Indianapolis. 

2009 Miles for Myeloma: Trek for Treatment:  207 miles by bike from Evansville to Indianapolis 

2008 Miles for Myeloma: The Bloomington Boomerang Part II:  60-mile run from Indianapolis to Bloomington and 60-mile bike ride from Bloomington to Indianapolis 

2007 Miles for Myeloma: The Bloomington Boomerang Part I:  60-mile run from Indianapolis to Bloomington and 60-mile bike ride from Bloomington to Indianapolis 

2006 Miles for Myeloma: The South Bend Tour:  40-mile run from Carmel to Kokomo and a 100-mile bike ride from Kokomo to South Bend

2005 Miles for Myeloma: The Fort Wayne Tour:  60-mile bike ride from Carmel to Marion and a 60-mile run from Marion to Fort Wayne

For more, visit http://www.cancer.iu.edu/m4m/index.shtml.