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Posted by Cindy Chmielewski (@MyelomaTeacher) · Jul 14, 2014

Cindy Chmielewski - Patient/Caregiver Scholarship 2014

Life is not about the steps you’ve taken, or the places you’ve been, it’s about the footprints you leave behind. My name is Cindy AKA @MyelomaTeacher and I hope the digital footprints I leave behind help a future generation of myeloma warriors become empowered patients. July 14, 2014 was my 6 year Cancerversary.

I have grown tremendously as a person over these six years. Six years ago I was an uneducated/uninvolved patient who blindly followed doctor’s orders. I didn’t ask questions, research my conditions or seek second opinions. Today I am an empowered patient and an active participant in my healthcare. I attribute social media as being a major impetus for my metamorphosis. I learned through listservs, blogs, Facebook, forums, teleconferences and Twitter.

I was diagnosed with myeloma after being misdiagnosed with degenerative disc disease for two years. My orthopedic doctor prescribed pain medications and countless sessions of physical therapy to help with the debilitating pain I was experiencing, but I wasn’t getting better. I was getting worse. I remember thinking “Maybe my doctor should take an x-ray” (which he never did in the two years I was seeing him), but I didn’t speak up. I didn’t trust my instincts.

By the time I was diagnosed with myeloma my bones were a mess. I had compression fractures, suffered from osteoporosis and I had loss over 3 inches in height. I started treatment immediately (without asking questions), but unfortunately I stopped responding to induction therapy after 4 cycles. I proceeded to have a stem cell transplant upon my myeloma specialist’s recommendation. My transplant failed to put me into remission and 100 days post-transplant I was back in treatment. By then I was actively researching protocols available to me, seeking second opinions and learning about clinical trials. Social media was my teacher.

I am now in l remission on continuous maintenance therapy and very active in the myeloma community. Being an educator my entire life it is only fitting that I use my passion for teaching to share what I have learned and continue to learn about the importance of patient empowerment, available resources, advocacy and research to a new group of students –patients, caregivers, doctors and anyone who will listen.

My classroom is the internet. @MyelomaTeacher is my personal Twitter handle I have over 2100 followers and Tweet daily. I also tweet from the International Myeloma Foundation’s @IMFAdvocacy twitter account Along with Dr. Thompson I organized the first #MMSM TweetChat and manage @MMSMChats Twitter account. I am an administrator of the Philadelphia Multiple Myeloma Networking Group’s Facebook page and website Using Pinterest I created a series of Myeloma specific boards. I am also a regular panelist on Myeloma CurePanel a talk show that features medical experts in conversation with a panel of patients about treatments under development.

I hope to bring the patient’s perspective/voice to the Social Media Week at Mayo Clinic and learn how to be more effective and reach a broader audience.

Questions about the contest or the voting process? Click here.

SM Scholarship 2014

Maureen, Suzanne, Kathy Bertino and 35 others like this

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Fran (@njfran52) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

Cindy, your teaching did not stop in the classroom. You have used Social Media to inform and educate many people about all the aspects of myeloma.. Not only have you learned to advocate for yourself but you have used Social Media to teach and help others to advocate for themselves. You help so many now. Your goal to reach even a broader audience could give even more people the confidence not to go blindly into treatment, but to take an active part by asking questions, learning as much about this disease as they can and knowing where to go to seek new trials if the conventional treatments are not working. Keep up the good work. You inspire many!

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Jennya (@jennya805) · Jul 15, 2014 · #

Cindy is an amazing resource. She constantly provides rock-solid and excellent information to the myeloma patient community. Thanks Cindy!

CureTalk Priya (@curetalkpriya) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Cindy, you are a true inspiration and deserve this opportunity. I admire you and wish you the best of luck. Your participation on the Cure Panel had added to its content quality and has helped in making it a trusted source of information on myeloma on the net. Thank you!

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Shweta (@setu4in) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

You are so eligible for this scholarship. Keep up the good work Cindy. All the best!

Jillian Ambs (@jmt9094) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Cindy, you are a tireless advocate for myeloma and I am in awe of your endless willingness to educate others

Hberkey (@hberkey) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

"When you learn, you teach, when you get, give." Maya Angelou

Cindy, you are learning, teaching, getting, and giving. You are an inspiration to all on how to live
life well!

suzierose likes this

Cheryl McFarland Punzo (@cherylpunzo) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Cindy, you are a true inspiration. I hope and pray that you earn this scholarship so that you can continue your mission.

rosedowns (@rosedowns) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Awareness is priceless. Thank you for sharing and helping others learn. All the best to you Cindy!

Laura Mooney (@nuzzolo) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Cindy, you are an inspiration to the cancer community with your tireless efforts to raise awareness of Multiple Myeloma. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts!

Teresa (@teresamiceli7) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Cindy has dedicated her life to being an educator. Even in her life struggle, she continues to educate people. She has personally enlighten me on the benefits of social media and mentored me.

Candace C (@cachm001) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

My mom has been teaching me day in and day out many lessons of life for almost 25 years now. She deserves everything she has ever worked for much like this scholarship. She is strong and an inspiration to many. She deserves to spread knowledge every way she can since it is what she enjoys doing . She is the best ! I wish I was as strong and as great as her.

moyerex (@moyerex) · Jul 16, 2014 · #

Thank you!

Aimee Martin (@amartin12650) · Jul 17, 2014 · #

Go Cindy Go! I love you and everything you do for myeloma patients in social media!!!!

marla mangione (@marlamangione) · Jul 17, 2014 · #

Love you, Cindy! You're an inspiration to us all!!

Annie C. (@annec) · Jul 17, 2014 · #

So learn. Thank you for your informative and inspirational posts.

Tere Fleming-Diaz (@terefd) · Jul 18, 2014 · #

Cindy is such a great inspiration to countless people. She is eager to not only learn, but share her knowledge with others. Her positive attitude and great enthusiasm makes her the ideal candidate for this scholarship.

Debby Muench (@debbymuench) · Jul 19, 2014 · #

Cindy's positive attitude and supportive stance are an inspiration to all facing challenges

Susan Bernocchi (@sueb) · Jul 19, 2014 · #

I have known Cindy for the last 40 years and she has always been upbeat, intelligent, well spoken, and a person who loves life. She is a person who is always willing to help and a person who everyone enjoys being around. She lights up a room! Her profound overall knowledge and her innate ability to share that with others is a gift. Throughout life, Cindy was always an asset to every team who was lucky enough to have her. As a teacher in the classroom, she brought more than the books to her students including her love and excitement for
life and all around her. Her positive presence at your program and beyond would be a gift to all who she reaches.

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diwargs (@diwargs) · Jul 19, 2014 · #

Cindy Chmielewski has been a true inspiration to all of those who meet her. She is my hero!

Carol Hotchkiss (@chotchkiss) · Jul 21, 2014 · #

Cindy is one who when was given lemons, made lemonade. I have witnessed her struggle with her diagnosis, become an advocate and use her knowledge to face the obstacles she has met in her path to recovery. I have also seen Cindy support others who have been face medical challenges as well. She is a wonderful candidate for this scholarship and an inspiration to all who have met her in person or thorough social media.

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