Multiple Myeloma Experts, Patients, Advocates and Caregivers Team Up to Hike Through Patagonia

A group of thirteen will embark on this challenge to raise awareness for multiple myeloma

CRANBURY, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#Celgene–As a part of a fundraising effort by Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma® (MM4MM), 13 individuals will traverse Patagonia’s awe-inspiring and incredible landscape from Nov. 9-19. MM4MM is a joint initiative between the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), CURE Media Group and Celgene. The upcoming climb includes survivors, caregivers, family members, myeloma doctors and team members from the organizing partners.

Since MM4MM began with its first climb in 2016, the program has raised over $2.7 million. All the funds raised go directly to the MMRF to accelerate new treatment options for patients with multiple myeloma.

“As a patient founded organization, the MMRF stands together with those who are battling multiple myeloma – patients, families, physicians, researchers, and our pharmaceutical partners. This team represents a microcosm of that myeloma community and demonstrates that together, we can collaborate with ever increasing momentum towards a cure,” said Paul Giusti, CEO of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. “We are thrilled to enter the fifth year of this inspiring program and to have Celgene join us in this effort to raise awareness and critical funds to continue our mission.”

The MM4MM team will include four patients living with multiple myeloma:

  • Michelle Carlberg received her diagnosis in August of 2016. Seeking answers for her ongoing back pain, weight loss, skin and stomach problems, her world was instantaneously shattered when she heard the word “cancer” emerge from her doctor’s mouth. She began her treatment with the multiple myeloma standard induction therapy of Revlimid (lenalidomide), bortezomib (Velcade) and dexamethasone for four months. In February of 2017, she underwent an autologous stem cell transplant. Not even 100 days later, her doctors realized the disease was more aggressive than they originally thought, and in August 2017, she began a regimen of carfilzomib (Kyprolis), lenalidomide (Revlimid) and dexamethasone. Even though she had reached remission status in December of 2017, it wasn’t until January of 2019 that the best news came – she achieved at minimal residual disease-negative status.
  • Carmelo Echevarria Colon III (Mel) was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma nearly six years ago. While living with the disease for the past several years has been challenging, he attributes a great deal of the success of his medical journey not only to his doctors at Duke University Hospital, but also to his positive mindset. His confidence in his optimistic attitude is what has served as the motivation behind his decision to participate in the hike with MM4MM.
  • Michael Mankowich was the oldest of 7 children and a collegiate wrestler. He always considered himself to be a fairly “tough” guy. It was only in February of 2017 that the toughness that he had relied on for so long was finally put to the test. Getting back to the gym to drop some unwanted pounds came with some pesky back problems for Mike, which he attributed to past wrestling injuries. After two chiropractors, one doctor and an X-ray technician could not conclude on the cause, he turned to a spinal cord specialist for answers. The morning after a detailed MRI scan, he got a call from the specialist about certain cells that were found in his bone marrow. The report concluded that he was suffering from either multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. Two years later, he is managing daily life with multiple myeloma, with the incredible support from his wife, Kathleen, and daughter, Mary, as well as the medical staff at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
  • Terry White was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the spring of 2009. After experiencing indescribable pain for quite some time, his doctor did an MRI scan, which revealed that he had a grapefruit-size tumor on the right iliac crest of his pelvic bone. Although he was initially diagnosed with plasmacytoma, the doctor warned him that would likely develop into multiple myeloma. After receiving radiation and induction therapy after another tumor was found the following December, he is grateful for the incredible support he receives every day from his wife and two sons. Terry continues to live by the words of his longtime time friend and fellow patient with multiple myeloma, “Don’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles today.” These words inspired Terry to participate in his first hike with the MMRF in the summer of 2009 at Colorado’s Mount Democrat, just 5 weeks after radiation. Climbing Mount Democrat after his first round of radiation became one of the greatest milestones in his cancer journey.

“We are so honored to be a part of yet another hike with the MMRF and Celgene,” said Mike Hennessy Jr., president and CEO of MJH Life Sciences™, parent company of CURE® magazine. “This initiative organized by Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma® not only raises awareness and research funding for multiple myeloma but has brought together the myeloma community to take action and fight for a cure for myeloma patients.”

The team will embark on a five-day trek of a lifetime through Patagonia and take on the rewarding and beautiful landscape that includes glaciers, deep valleys and challenging peaks. During this trek, the team will travel through El Chaltén and acclimatize while they experience the mighty range of peaks dominated by Monte Fitz Roy, an 11,020-foot tower with a sheer face of more than 6,000 feet. Next, the team will reach Lago San Martin, where they will traverse the terrain in daily treks, exploring a 10-mile peninsula, climbing to a condor rookery and reaching remote Andean lakes.

“Celgene, Cure and the MMRF share an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of patients with multiple myeloma and we are very proud to continue our role in the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma initiative,” said Chad Saward, senior director, patient advocacy at Celgene Corp. “We are amazed and inspired by all who are participating in this unique awareness program.”

To learn more about MM4MM and to donate to multiple myeloma research, click here.

About Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma®

Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma® (MM4MM) is a collaboration between CURE Media Group and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) to raise awareness and funds for myeloma research. This year, Celgene Corporation and GSK join the effort as sponsors. In addition to Patagonia, the program also led hikes up Mt. Washington and through Iceland in 2019. To date, MM4MM has raised over $2.7 million for myeloma research and included 51 patients with multiple myeloma on 7 climbs. Funds raised go directly to research, supporting the MMRF mission. For more information, visit https://www.themmrf.org/events/.

About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a cancer of the plasma cell. It is the second most common blood cancer. An estimated 32,110 adults (18,130 men and 13,980 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with MM in 2019 and an estimated 12,960 people are predicted to die from the disease. The five-year survival rate for MM is approximately 50.7%, versus 31% in 1999.

About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

A pioneer in precision medicine, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) seeks to find a cure for all multiple myeloma patients by relentlessly pursuing innovations that accelerate the development of precision treatments for cancer. 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 has created the business model around cancer—from data to analytics to the clinic. The MMRF identifies barriers and then finds the solutions to overcome them, bringing in the best partners and aligning incentives in the industry to drive better outcomes for patients. Since its inception, the organization has collected thousands of samples and tissues, opened nearly 100 trials, helped bring 10 FDA-approved therapies to market, and built CoMMpass, the single largest genomic dataset for any cancer. Today, the MMRF is building on its legacy in genomics and is expanding into immune-oncology, as the combination of these two fields will be critical to making precision medicine possible for all patients. The MMRF has raised nearly $500 million and directs nearly 90% of the total funds to research and related programs. To learn more, visit 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, as well as the dynamic website for oncology nurses, OncNursingNews.com, and its companion publication, Oncology Nursing News®. CURE Media Group is a brand of MJH Life Sciences™, the largest privately held, independent, full-service medical media company in the U.S. dedicated to delivering trusted health care news across multiple channels.

Contacts

CURE Media Group Media:
Alexandra Ventura, 609-716-7777, ext. 121

aventura@mjhassoc.com