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Multiple Myeloma Patients, Caregivers and Health Care Professionals Trekking to the Doorstep of the World’s Tallest Mountain, Mt. Everest

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
Posted on: 01 Mar 18

To propel scientific and clinical research for multiple myeloma, a team of 18 dedicated individuals will embark on a daring ascent to Mount Everest Base Camp from March 3 to 16. The team includes patients, caregivers, and health care professionals who are taking on this challenge to support the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program (MM4MM), a fund raising initiative of CURE Media Group, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

All proceeds from the Mount Everest Base Camp trek, MM4MM’s seventh expedition, will help to support the MMRF’s efforts to accelerate the development of multiple myeloma treatments. Since its inception in 2016, MM4MM has raised over $1.45 million by completing a total of six expeditions, spanning four continents.

“We are so inspired by this team, especially the seven patients who are able to take on this epic challenge. We are grateful to Takeda and CURE for their continued support of the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program. Funds raised by programs like these help the MMRF continue to accelerate precision medicine-based therapies which can help identify the best treatment for every patient,” said MMRF CEO and President, Paul Giusti.

This challenging and awe-inspiring nine-day trek will take the hikers to Everest Base Camp and beyond to the summit of Kalapathhar, reaching an altitude of 18,519 ft. above sea level.

“Seeing these people go through such a compelling journey is truly inspiring,” said Michael J. Hennessy Jr., president of Michael J. Hennessy Associates, parent company of CURE Media Group. “We are proud to once again be a part of this initiative and we hope to ultimately eliminate this disease.”

The Mount Everest Base Camp team includes the following seven multiple myeloma patients:

  • Jennifer Davis from Kalamazoo, Michigan, collapsed in her bedroom, unable to stand or walk, in December of 2013 and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with multiple myeloma. By joining this hike, Davis hopes to prove to herself that cancer does not have a hold on her life, and demonstrate how far she has come in her fight against myeloma.
  • Mark Herkert from Seattle, Washington, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma over six years ago and believes that the diagnosis gave him purpose and passion that his life was missing before. Herkert missed the Mount Kilimanjaro hike due to health issues, but today is able to join the Everest Base Camp Team, with strength, determination and hope, thanks to a new drug therapy that has made his myeloma “undetectable” for the first time since he was diagnosed.
  • JP Kealy from Wilton, Connecticut, was diagnosed with plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma in April 2014, He underwent a stem cell transplant in April, 2017, and is thrilled that less than one year from that date, he will be climbing to the doorstep of the world’s tallest mountain. His journey with myeloma has brought his wife and children closer than ever. Together they have coined the phrase “JP STRONG,” inspired by his resilience. JP's wife Annamarie will be climbing alongside him.
  • Ben Marcus, a medical doctor from Madison, Wisconsin, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2016, at age 45. He aims to accomplish three goals by climbing to the Mount Everest base camp: raise funds to find a cure, be an inspiration to patients receiving treatment and prove to himself that cancer does not define him.
  • John Raithel from Grosselle, Michigan, hopes to be an inspiration to other patients with multiple myeloma through this challenge. After receiving a stem cell transplant, Raithel is in remission. He aims to raise funds to support research advancements and will hike along side his myeloma doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Zonder, of Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit, Michigan.
  • Stan Wagner of Brooklyn, New York, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2013. After 5 months of treatment, he was in remission. Prior to this climb, Wagner participated in the Mount Kilimanjaro trek, and continues to participate to push his personal limits and inspire other patients.
  • Kirk Wilkerson of Bostic, North Carolina, was diagnosed with smoldering multiple myeloma two years ago during his life insurance pre-screening process. Now he’s ready to take on the climb to support MMRF, an organization that helps fund his own treatments. Joining Kirk on the climb is his myeloma doctor, Dr. Saad Usmani, of Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma has been an important program supported by Takeda Oncology. It unites, empowers and engages the multiple myeloma community, including patients, physicians, nurses and caregivers, on an inspiring mission that continues to raise critical funds and awareness for multiple myeloma research,” said Ryan Wade, Takeda Oncology Corporate Communications. “I am privileged to be a part of the MM4MM team, and to collaborate on this meaningful cause.”

To learn more about MM4MM and to donate to multiple myeloma research, please visit www.movingmountainsformultiplemyeloma.com/everest18.

About Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma

Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma (MM4MM) is collaboration between the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, (MMRF), Takeda Oncology and CURE Media Group to raise awareness and funds for myeloma research. Patients, caregivers, myeloma doctors and nurses and myeloma loved ones take on challenging mountains to demonstrate that the advancements being made in recent years, funded and spearheaded by the MMRF, are helping patients live longer with a higher quality of life than ever before.

For more information, visit http://www.movingmountainsformultiplemyeloma.com.

About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are found in the bone marrow. In multiple myeloma, a group of plasma cells, or myeloma cells, becomes cancerous and multiplies, increasing the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. Because plasma cells circulate widely in the body, they have the potential to affect many bones in the body, possibly resulting in compression fractures, lytic bone lesions and related pain. Multiple myeloma can cause a number of serious health problems affecting the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count, with some of the more common symptoms including bone pain and fatigue, a symptom of anemia. Multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer, with more than 26,000 new cases in the U.S. and 114,000 new cases globally each year.

About the MMRF

The mission of the MMRF is to find a cure for multiple myeloma by relentlessly pursuing innovation that accelerates the development of next-generation treatments to extend the lives of patients. Founded in 1998 by Kathy Giusti, a multiple myeloma patient, and her twin sister Karen Andrews as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, the MMRF is a world-recognized leader in cancer research. Together with its partners, the MMRF has created the only end-to-end solution in precision medicine and the single largest genomic dataset in all cancers. The MMRF continues to disrupt the industry today, as a pioneer and leader at the helm of new research efforts. Since its inception, the organization has raised over $400 million and directs nearly 90 percent of the total funds to research and related programs. The MMRF has received the "Best in America" Seal of Excellence from the Independent Charities of America and Charity Navigator's 4-star rating for twelve years. The MMRF has also been recognized by Philanthropedia as one of 16 expert-identified, high-impact nonprofits in the field of cancer. To learn more, visit http://www.themmrf.org.

About CURE Media Group

CURE Media Group is the leading resource for cancer updates, research and education. It combines a full suite of media products, including its industry-leading website, CUREtoday.com; innovative video programs, such as CURE Connections®; a series of widely attended live events; and CURE® magazine, which reaches over 1 million readers. CURE Media Group is part of the Cranbury, New Jersey-based Michael J. Hennessy Associates, Inc. family of businesses, which includes the acclaimed OncLive® (http://www.www.onclive.com) platform of resources for the practicing oncologist. For more information, visit http://www.curetoday.com or http://www.mjhassoc.com.

About Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited is a global, research and development-driven pharmaceutical company committed to bringing better health and a brighter future to patients by translating science into life-changing medicines. Takeda focuses its research and development (R&D) efforts on oncology, gastroenterology and central nervous system therapeutic areas plus vaccines. Takeda conducts R&D both internally and with partners to stay at the leading edge of innovation. New innovative products, especially in oncology and gastroenterology, as well as our presence in Emerging Markets, fuel the growth of Takeda. More than 30,000 Takeda employees are committed to improving quality of life for patients, working with our partners in health care in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit http://www.takeda.com/news.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180301005140/en/

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Last updated on: 01/03/2018

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