Advocates working to raise awareness and funds for multiple myeloma successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and a documentary about the climb premiered last month at the Eden Roc Miami.
The group included 15 multiple myeloma patients, doctors, family members, and supporters. The climb took place in January and raised about $250,000 for the disease. At 19,341 feet, the Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, is among the highest mountains in the world.
The documentary of the climb, which was filmed and produced by Uncage the Soul Productions, was shown for the first time at the inaugural Multiple Myeloma Heroes Awards event on March 18 at the Eden Roc Miami. The documentary was included in the 20th Annual International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies, while the Myeloma Heroes Awards honor the contributions of individuals or groups in the field of multiple myeloma, or the lives of patients with multiple myeloma.
Climbing Kilimanjaro was the inaugural event of the project Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma, a collaboration between CURE Media Group, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), according to a press release. The proceeds from the climb will be awarded to the MMRF to accelerate research for next-generation treatments.
“There is nothing more powerful than working together with multiple myeloma patients, doctors, and caregivers toward a common goal,” said Alicia O’Neill, climber and MMRF executive. “As a participant in the climb, I couldn’t be more proud of the commitment and energy of everyone who climbed and supported this effort. Thanks to this remarkable determination and generosity, the MMRF will continue to advance the front lines of research in multiple myeloma, paving the way for more awareness, as well as new treatments and hope for patients and their families around the world.”
Climber and multiple myeloma patient Bob Dickey of Shell Beach, California, agreed.
“Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was validation that multiple myeloma is not the end. The climb illustrates to patients and caregivers that multiple myeloma offers us an opportunity, if not a requirement, to press on harder,” Dickey said.
Multiple myeloma is an incurable type of blood cancer with a 46.6 percent chance of survival after five years, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Despite the fact that great improvements have been made in recent years for the development of novel treatments, there is still no cure, and continued funding for research is critical.
In addition to Dickey, other multiple myeloma patients who climbed Kilimanjaro include Chuck Wakefield of Dallas, Jeff Goad of Chicago, and Stan Wagner of Brooklyn.
“Pushing our way toward the summit was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, as it was freezing cold with winds more than 40 mph… It was surreal, but I made it,” Wagner said. “The promise I made to bring the names on my banner – cancer survivors and people who passed away – to the summit motivated me. It was an obligation I had to meet no matter what. I’m thankful for the opportunity to take action in a meaningful way, and to fight back against multiple myeloma.”