Grand Canyon2016


Alicia O'Neill

Our Team: A Metaphor for the Patient Journey

December 31, 2015

When I think about our time together here in the majestic Grand Canyon, I am mindful of how our team is such a metaphor for the patient journey.

The myeloma patient does not go it alone. They have a network of support — their family/caregivers, the myeloma medical community and the pharmaceutical partners who discover the treatments. And then there are the sources of information that empower the patient, like CURE. And of course there is the MMRF, which works with the focus and drive of a Fortune 100 company, to not only fund critical research but to conduct the research that is accelerating cures.

And here we all are — our little band of 13 people — representing that entire microcosm described above: We have three patients: Donna and her husband/caregiver; Frederic and his wife and daughter; Jennifer and her son. Griselda came to heal and honor her beloved father, Aurturo, who lost his battle with myeloma too soon. Then there is Michele, the myeloma nurse from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville who helps myeloma patients every day. And we were so lucky to have Kannan, a scientist from Takeda who has helped develop new drug therapies. Marty helps patients get important information via CURE magazine. And I am part of this team, representing the MMRF, and so honored to be a part of Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma and to see the progress we have made first hand. We are all here: a group united to care for each other and to offer hope.

But this is not blind hope. No, this is hope based on the amazing progress that has been made. In just a decade, the MMRF has spearheaded research that has resulted in ten new drugs for patients. In just 10 years, the lifespan of a patient has almost tripled. And patients like Donna and Frederic and Jen — each of whom have shared that one or two years ago they could hardly walk, and that they could not hardly imagine living a “normal” life again — are here, hiking the Grand Canyon, living life fully, and defining themselves by their experiences and their family — not by their disease.

Hiking won’t cure cancer. Research will. But research costs money. That's what we are doing: putting our bodies on the line and raising money. Because with more funds, we can continue to conduct game-changing research that is offering hope. Hope based on amazing progress. Yes, we are Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma.

- Alicia

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