Lauren Charamut

Standing on Fuji's Doorstep
Tuesday, July 18
Coming to Japan terrified me, but I imagine it is nothing in comparison to the fear after hearing the dreaded words of your diagnosis. Before the MMRF, fear was all I knew, fear of the unknown path ahead of my mom. This journey has been about putting your fears behind you, stepping out of your comfort zone and doing. Because only through hard work can you achieve great results, as the culture of Japan has reinforced.

It may seem that I am on a glorious vacation, but inside there is fear, anxiety, and overwhelming stress. Japan has been my first experience in a non-English speaking country, I have a fear of heights and am setting out to hike 12,389 ft. Mt. Fuji, which is the highest elevation I have ever climbed and I am unsure of how my body will handle the altitude.

However, I will be hiking alongside six multiple myeloma patients who are an inspiration to us all. If they can do it, I surely can. There will also be researchers who make it their job to work towards a cure, again an inspiration to hike alongside them.

I hope and pray that what we are doing makes a difference in the world of myeloma treatment and helps us to find a cure. At the very least, I hope to bring positive energy to those around me, especially the patients and my mother. The culture of Japan has taught me a lot in my few days here and I am very grateful for that. With special meaning behind the slightest movement, they believe every tiny detail is just as important as the overall outcome. And so, I hope through this large outpouring of movement and energy we can summon the forces needed to find a cure.

The mountains will always be there, and one day I hope we will not have to climb them.
Saying Yes
Tuesday, May 30

My decision to hike Mount Fuji for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and my mom came to me during a run. As I debated accepting the challenge with myself, it hit me that if I wasn’t willing to fight for this cause for my mom, then who would? I started to cry (quite typical for me) thinking this is something I wish I didn’t have to do. And, although you may think that I don’t have to — no one is forcing me to accept this challenge — I know it is something that must be done.

Not only does being able to honor my mother and her fight mean a great deal to me, it is at a time when she has been faced with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of cancer. Where would she be today if she had said, “No, it’s too much of a challenge, I’m really scared and so I am actually going to back out of treatment?” She does not have the luxury to say no and neither should I. So, I see this as something that must be done.

The MMRF has given my family and I hope. Through the MMRF, we have turned ourselves into fundraising, supportive caregivers that are now more hopeful than scared. My dad and I first joined the MMRF in their fight for a cure by running the New York City Marathon in November 2016. That run transformed how we dealt with my mom’s illness. We once would avoid the topic and cry only when we were alone. Today, we cry together, but the tears have a different feeling, a different emotion behind them. It is one of happiness that we are still together as a family, that my mom is doing well in her treatment, that we have adjusted to this new normal and that we have chosen to let it transform our lives for the better and not for the worse.

As a family, I feel it is important to keep that momentum going. My mother entered remission this past January, giving me more motivation and drive to spread awareness and love, and to continue fundraising for a cure because it’s working! Not only are the drugs working, but I believe the positivity that has entered our world, as well as the prayers and support we have stirred up, made an impact, too. Positive thinking is just as important; I thank the MMRF for providing that. The two go hand in hand: physical treatment and emotional support. That is why I continue to fight for my mom and support the MMRF.

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