BENNINGTON -- Promoting awareness of multiple myeloma is Jan Martin Bopp's mission.
The local sculptor and educator has for six years been battling the cancer of plasma cells in blood marrow -- the second most common blood cancer in the world.
Bopp was invited to a small ceremony on snowy Friday afternoon at the Bennington Town Office, during which Joseph Krawczyk Jr., Bennington Select Board chairman, and Stuart Hurd, Bennington town manager, presented him with an official proclamation declaring that the month of March will be Myeloma Awareness Month in Bennington. He accepted the proclamation on behalf of the International Myeloma Foundation and the local regional myeloma support group
In the Bennington area there is a disproportionate number of people who have been diagnosed with Myeloma, says Bopp. The disease affects more than 100,000 people in the U.S., with an estimated 20,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It causes 10,000 deaths each year and has no known cure.
"The Town of Bennington, Vermont is committed to finding a cure for Myeloma and supports the treatment of its citizens that suffer from Myeloma and encourages private efforts to enhance research funding and education programs," Krawczyk said, continuing to read from the proclamation.
A copy of the proclamation signed by members of the select board was presented to Bopp.
"I'm deeply grateful," said Bopp.
He added, "Having been a professional educator for all of my professional career, I'm going to continue to educate people about myeloma. I've had it for six years and I have friends who are worse off than I am." Bopp taught at Mount Greylock High School in Williamstown, Mass.
The town's proclamation encourages all Bennington residents to "join in participating in voluntary activities to support Myeloma education and the funding of research programs to find a cure."
Bopp said he is group leader for a support group, the Multiple Myeloma Networking Group, Southwestern Vermont Region, that meets in Bennington. The group is affiliated with the International Myeloma Foundation. To learn more about IMF, visit www.myeloma.org, call 800-452-CURE (2873) or email SWVT@imfsupport.org.