Alicia O'Neill

Moving Mountains and Making Miracles
Tuesday, January 23
Alicia
On March 3, a team of 19 courageous people, made up of patients, caregivers, doctors and others – all with a direct connection to multiple myeloma, will climb to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and then beyond, to Kala Patthar, 18,500 feet above sea level. 

Everest Base Camp marks the 7th trek of the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma (MM4MM) program, a partnership between Takeda Oncology, CURE Magazine and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF).  

Since our first climb in January 2016 to Mt. Kilimanjaro, 112 team members – including 24 myeloma patients - have been to four continents.  We’ve raised over $1.25 million, 100 percent of which, thanks to our partners, goes directly to the MMRF to fund and spearhead critical myeloma research. We’ve inspired hundreds of thousands of people with the beautiful stories we have told via videos, news articles, blogs and social media posts.

As this was all starting, back in 2015, we brainstormed a name for our new program, which would bring together teams to take on epic mountains and raise awareness and funds for myeloma research.  When the name “Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma” was suggested, we KNEW we had nailed it.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “moving mountains” means “to achieve spectacular and apparently impossible results.”  A synonym for “moving mountains” is “miracle."

And do you know what a miracle looks like to 41-year-old multiple myeloma patient Jennifer Davis? It looks like three years after collapsing in her bedroom, unable to walk (and shortly thereafter being diagnosed with multiple myeloma), being able to take on a 12-day hike to Everest Base Camp.

For Mark Herkert, an EBC team member and multiple myeloma patient whose disease was so relentless and obstinate that he was out of treatment options, a miracle looks like a new drug coming to market at just the right time, resulting in his having no detectable cancer for the first time in eight years.

For JP Kealy, a miracle looked like committing — even prior to his stem cell transplant — to climb to the doorstep of the world’s tallest mountain with his wife of 23 years at his side. JP’s stem cell transplant was in April 2017.  Less than a year later, on March 3, 2018, he’ll be climbing to Everest Base Camp. And today, his cancer is “undetectable.”

I could go on, because every one of our 19 team members has a “spectacular and impossible” story to tell. 

But “Moving Mountains” means more, too. Since its inception in 1998, the MMRF has been moving Mountains … doing “the impossible.” Their innovative research model is disrupting a broken cancer research system, resulting in tripling the lifespan of myeloma patients. Along with researcher and pharmaceutical partners the MMRF has helped 10 new drugs come to market in the time it normally takes to bring ONE to patients. The MMRF moved mountains by sequencing the genomes of over 1100 myeloma patients over the course of eight years, in landmark study called CoMMpass, and in so doing created the largest data set in ALL of cancer. This data is now being shared with researchers worldwide to drive new theories and move closer to cracking the code on cancer.

Yes.  We are Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma patients. 

We hope you will join us in 2018 as we head to Iceland, Havasu Falls/Grand Canyon and take on a second trip to Everest Base Camp. Visit:  https://endurance.themmrf.org/2018MM4MM/




 
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View our interviews with climber Chuck Wakefield