Michelle Akavuti

Age: 37
Hometown: San Jose, CA / Nové Zámky, Slovakia

Ten years ago my brother-in-law Erik was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I still remember the day very clearly that my sister called. I was at orientation for my new job and preparing to move to Slovakia for full time youth ministry. At first, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong and so they didn’t know how to treat him or how long he would live. So, I left orientation, got on a plane and ended up living with my sister and Erik for the next two years.

Our family first met Erik when he moved to California to teach at Valley Christian High School. In fact, he was my high school history teacher. Shortly after he moved to
California, he and my sister started dating so I would have him as a teacher in school in the day and then many times after school he would be at our house hanging out. It was fun having Erik around because I had always wanted a brother.

As difficult as treatments were, Erik and I always made the best of the many trips for tests and doctor visits. There were many late nights of playing Tiger Woods PGA Golf on Xbox, watching American Pickers, and lots of awesome trips to any "Diner, Drive in and Dives" restaurant we could find. Through all this, one thing that always impressed me was Erik’s positivity.

There has been much uncertainty these last 10 years but the doctors and nurses have done an amazing job at working with Erik to find treatments to help prolong his life. Erik continues to be an inspiration to many as he continues to live life to the full all while constantly going through treatments. This opportunity is not only a way to raise
awareness and funds for the MMRF but it is also the opportunity to celebrate the 10-plus years the MMRF doctors and researchers have helped prolong his life. I have seen firsthand how brutal this disease can be but have also seen how someone with determination along with dedicated doctors and nurses can achieve.
 
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