Michelle Cunningham-Joost
Michelle Cunningham-Joost

Fulfilling My Promise
Tuesday, May 23
In November 2016, I set out on a journey to keep a promise I made to my mother — "I’ll never let people forget you. For your love, generosity and compassion for family, friends and complete strangers, and to ensure I do everything in my power to help find a cure so that others may live, live longer… live forever."

With the help of Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Takeda Oncology and CURE, I found a group of people who inspired and motivated me even more to keep that promise. Through their triumphs, laughs, struggles, tears and personal stories they made me realize I not only made a promise to my mother; I made it to them, and so many more people. This promise has evolved in a way I never thought possible; it has become a lifelong commitment to ensure that we find a cure.

In a poem, written by Gwen Flowers, she states “… grief is not something you complete but rather, you endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself, an alteration of your being. A new way of seeing and a new definition of self.”

Climbing the Grand Canyon was just the beginning of fulfilling my promise to my mom and it has changed me forever. This is my way to endure the loss of my mother and this is the new me that will accept nothing less than a cure.

We still have mountains to move, but spending time with Kathleen, Steve, Catherine, Stan, Gina, Megan, Jon, Lupe, Stacy, Scott, Bernadette, Colin, Marty, Jane and Brittney showed me that there are people living with multiple myeloma and there are amazing supporters behind the fight to find a cure. This was an opportunity that could possibly save lives. I can’t think of a better way to honor my mother. I am so grateful for this experience.
My Promise
Tuesday, April 18
My promise to my mother was “I’ll never let people forget you! For your love, generosity and compassion for family, friends and complete strangers, and to ensure I do everything in my power to help find a cure so that others may live, live longer...live forever.”  

Certainly we have all made promises before, some we have kept and some we have let fall by the wayside. So, when a daughter makes a promise to her mother days before her passing, you do everything in your power to keep that promise. My mother, Linda Cunningham, passed on November 2, 2016, four and a half short years after her diagnosis. I had no idea sitting there days before Thanksgiving of how to keep that promise. Frustrated and heartbroken I turned to Facebook to see the latest and greatest gossip, basically to numb the pain. Instead I found inspiration.

It was inspiration that was nothing short of either a coincidence or a miracle. I’d rather think it was my mother pointing the way, like she had always done for me and my brothers. In my Facebook news feed was one of the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma hikes and as soon as I opened the link, I knew this is what I was supposed to get involved with and the perfect way to keep my promise to my mother. I sent a message to the page and within minutes I had a response from Marty Murphy. I was told in January while I was driving in a rain storm to a military training, that I was selected to be a part of the Grand Canyon Team. I was overcome with emotion and knew I was one step closer to the promise.

I never thought I would have been chosen to hike the Grand Canyon with this amazing group. I am honored and humbled and know that we have many more battles ahead of us. My hope is that in fundraising and raising awareness that we can find the cure that my family and my mother were so desperate to find. We can make a difference in the lives of current patients and those who will be diagnosed in the future.

I’m here moving mountains for multiple myeloma! I encourage my family, friends and complete strangers to help me keep my mother’s memory alive, by either donating or getting involved. I want to shout out to everyone who has already donated, you will always have a place in my heart and those who have yet to donate, have your mom point you in the right direction.
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