Initially, we used my husband's diagnosis to show our support as we navigated this journey and joined a new “club” we really didn’t want to be a part of.
“JP Strong” is a phrase my children and I coined after my husband, JP, received a diagnosis of multiple myeloma in 2014. Initially, we used it to show our support as we navigated this journey and joined a new “club” we really didn’t want to be a part of.
JP got his diagnosis in April of that year and, immediately, he wanted to get involved in figuring out how to best manage his disease while remaining optimistic. A friend told him about the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and an upcoming 5K run in a neighboring town. We registered and set our fundraising goal and within a few days, he’d tripled his goal. Our friends and family all came out that day to support JP and it was an incredibly positive yet emotional experience. It gave him the boost he needed to know that with his positive mindset, paired with the efforts of the MMRF, he could do this.
Several months later, we learned about Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma (MM4MM)and he was selected to join a team to trek to Everest Base Camp with fellow patients, doctors and caregivers. Together, we trained daily while JP received his weekly chemotherapy and multiple prescriptions to combat the cancer cells rapidly multiplying in his blood. He never complained, never missed a day of work and never said, I can’t do this.
His resilience and stamina to tolerate this war against his cancer while fundraising and training to climb a mountain, which many healthy individuals would never attempt, were inspiring. Friends were emailing, texting and calling regularly complimenting his relentless fight not only for himself but for other patients. It was so important for JP to remain positive because he never wanted anyone to pity him and he recognized that everyone had their own mountain to climb in life.
Trekking to Everest Base Camp was one of the hardest yet most rewarding, life-changing experiences we had ever accomplished, particularly because JP had endured a stem cell transplant 11 months prior. JP’s involvement with MM4MM continued and we trekked the Fitz Roy in Patagonia, a “14er” in Colorado and the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, and he plans to join a hike next year.
We are blessed with supportive friends and family who have generously donated to the MMRF year after year, allowing JP to easily surpass his fundraising goals. He has raised close to $150,000 since his diagnosis, 90+% which goes directly to research, which translates to not only extending patients’ lives but also improving their quality of life.
He focuses on not just living but thriving. Our four children have been motivated by their father and they have been involved in our fundraising efforts running in New York City Half Marathons, hosting local bake sales and even getting their friends involved.
JP is also a mentor for patients with new myeloma diagnoses,helping them navigate this new normal, which we often compare to a rollercoaster ride with its many highs and lows. Having patient-to-patient conversations and sharing their personal experiences and the challenges they face is critical. He knows how important it is to maintain a positive outlook and wants to help other patients live their best lives.
Additionally, he wants to raise awareness about the disease to ease the fear most patients with new myeloma diagnoses share.
JP is quite humble. Even his own doctors marvel at his resolve to beat this disease while inspiring others to be “JP Strong.” They recognize the significant impact he has had improving the lives of those affected by multiple myeloma through his actions and dedication to being selfless in his fight.
I have no doubt JP will continue to climb mountains and encourage others until there is a cure someday very soon. He has inspired countless patients over the past eight years, but no one more than me. It is an absolute honor to nominate JP, my husband and best friend, for this recognition as a multiple myeloma warrior!
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