Jeffrey & Silva Zonder
Jeffrey & Silva Zonder

A Common Goal
Wednesday, August 10
As we are sitting in the airport in New York city, a long layover on our way to Peru, I'm continuously checking social media to keep up with the other 18 people accompanying us in this upcoming journey. While scrolling through posts, I see one from one from the wife of one of our patients. Over the years I have come to know her; she has become very dear to me. She had posted a picture of her and her late husband who lost his battle with myeloma several months ago, the picture with the #MM4MM logo added in the corner, and the comment underneath “Wish WE could do the hike, but I am a bad hiker.” Just that picture brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart with sadness. Her husband was a wonderful man who was courageous and never lost his spirit to fight to the end. It was a great reminder that these are the people who we are doing the hike for, this is the disease we are raising funds to fight and find a cure for. This patient and his wife will be on my mind and in my heart when we reach the top of the hike this week. His name, along with others, will be hoisted on a banner when we get there.

I always think about how it must feel to be in these patients' shoes … the more patients I meet, the more amazed I am by the grace and determination many show. I was lucky to have a chance to hike with two patients, Cindi and Jeff, at the Bear Mountain training hike in New York recently. It was amazing to see their determination, strength and — what touched me the most — their gratitude for all we do for our patients. I love seeing the posts from Amy (Jeff's wife) about their children and grandson. I know we are hiking for them and she and Jeff are hiking with the hopes that research funded by the MMRF and others will help Jeff to see their children grow and their grandson go to college. I found it to be very inspiring and it makes me look forward to spending more time with this beautiful couple. When I met Cindi, I felt that we had an immediate connection, like I had known her forever. She is a ten-year survivor who will be hiking with her best friend.

And then there are the families and caregivers. I spent quite some time with Anne and Rob. Anne is honoring her sister who died few years ago from myeloma. Since her passing, Anne and Rob never stopped their commitment to raise funds for the MMRF. They run marathons, hike and do anything else they can to contribute to the mission.

I can't wait to meet the other people in the group. They all seem awesome and all have a common goal: beat this disease, raise funds for research, find better treatments and find a cure! I consider myself very lucky to be part of this group and I am looking forward to an amazing adventurous journey to our common goal.

- Silva
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