Saad Usmani

Coming Together To Make History
Tuesday, March 13
These past 10 days have been full of surprises, joy and heartache, with new friendships forged on the gruesome trails in the Nepalese Himalayas. Eighteen people came together, from different walks of life for a common purpose — to raise money and awareness for multiple myeloma. Each team member was already a winner in my book by signing up for this extraordinary undertaking. We ended up raising close to $400,000 for myeloma research!

The past 10 days saw us conquer brutal terrain day in and day out — supporting each other and digging deep when it mattered the most. We cared for each other when a few of us felt unwell and could not finish the journey. No one can predict how the human body will respond to steep rises in altitude, but no one can ever doubt the resolve the MM4MM Everest Base Camp trek team had for this expedition. During the trip, we as a group redefined our expectations of fine dining, personal hygiene, quality of hotel lodgings and most importantly, bathrooms. We saw the price of a clean bottle of water rise from 100 Nepali rupees to 450 Nepali rupees along the route. We have come to appreciate the simplicity and impermanence of life.

There were no labels associated with any one of us (doctor, patient, caregiver, researcher, MMRF staff, Sherpa) — we functioned as a family. However, we all have trek names that will go down in the annals of MM4MM Everest Base Camp trek history (the poet, mountain Jesus, the Yeti, Himalaya playa, Z-pack, kidney boy, Sir Paul the optimist, etc.). I have come to love and respect every team member; these kinds of friendships are forever. I thank every one of my teammates for letting me be a part of their lives and thank the MMRF, CURE and Takeda for creating this wonderful fundraising initiative.
Playing a Part in MM4MM's Major Role
Friday, February 16
I am very passionate about everything I do in life, personally and professionally. As a multiple myeloma clinician and researcher, this passion helps me through each week as I accompany my patients through their highs and lows. The same passion always leaves me asking “what more can I do.” About a year ago, my family and I had just returned from vacation. We were lounging out in the living room, it was the last weekend of the year before 2017 rang in. I came across an email from the MMRF for ‘Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma’ and their fundraising initiatives. Before I had finished reading the email completely, my mind was made up to sign up for the MM4MM Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek. My wife acquiesced with measured skepticism about my ability to follow through given the already taxing work schedule in a two-physician family with three kids in tow. But we have made it work! With less than four weeks to go for our trip to EBC, it has been a fun journey preparing for the trek, raising the monies and making many new friends.

The MMRF has done a great service to the field by bringing the multiple myeloma research community together on a platform that enables pivotal collaborations and innovations that will eventually lead to a cure multiple myeloma. Since its inception, the MMRF has enabled the multiple myeloma research community to make key discoveries about disease biology and helped fund pivotal trials that have quadrupled the survival of multiple myeloma patients. My mentor Dr. Bart Barlogie embarked on his academic career three decades with that goal in mind, in a time where talking about curing a “disease of the elderly” was considered heresy. In the year 2018, the multiple myeloma research community can openly talk about curing the disease — the MMRF has played a major role in making it happen. I feel privileged that the efforts of my team are a small part of that story.
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