Name:Ramona Biliunas
Hometown:Chicago, IL
Reason for Climbing:Spouse with MM
My Story: My husband Jeff was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma 5 years ago while I was finishing the final plans for his 50th birthday party. It was devastating and confusing news! Since we were told it was very advanced, it was also hard to contain the tears during his party not knowing if it would be his last. But we tackled this ultimate challenge as we have done with other challenges in our lives by educating ourselves, talking to all the medical professionals we could and then designing a plan to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately our wonderful doctor at Lurie Cancer Center, worked with us to design a treatment program that still gave us some control of our very active lifestyles, and still complete 2 successful Stem Cell Transplants for us.

It is hard to be the spouse of anyone with cancer, as you watch them endure their treatments you often feel frustrated that you aren't able to fix things. Pouring over medical articles and reading books looking for ways to improve our nutrition and health even more, and to make our bodies "inhospitable to cancer" became my mission. The MMRF also became an integral part of research resources as well as extended family. Those hugs from Cathy, Jane or Alicia are always so genuine and encouraging.

We have been blessed with these past 5 years and truly appreciate how fortunate we are to have the family, friends and colleagues who have made it possible to endure and thrive with this challenge. We will need them all again in this latest hurdle thrown our way. Jeff and I both have shared a love of the outdoors and have conquered many difficult adventures including completing a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon last year in some very difficult heat challenges! We will tackle Mt. Kilimanjaro with the same thoughtful planning and physical preparation as we both fulfill lifelong dreams of that very special place.

I encourage you to donate to this very worthy cause and help Jeff and I raise at least $20,000 together to fund MMRF research to find a cure!

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