Sitting and staring at a blank sheet of (virtual) paper thinking: “You’ve never blogged, never done anything on Social Media, and never have done anything like this before. What were you thinking?!?”
What was it that I did that led to this blog that I’m starting? I applied and was accepted to join a team of bike riders on a fund-raising endurance ride in September for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). The ride will start in Burlington, VT and end in Montreal, Canada.
For those of you who know me, you probably know that I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (MM) just about 4 years ago in February 2015. At the time, I was unfamiliar with Multiple Myeloma and knew little about it. As a clinical pharmacist practicing in Adult Internal Medicine, I rarely encountered patients with cancer on rounds and only once or twice did I help take care of someone with Multiple Myeloma. Little did I know what was in store for me once I was diagnosed.
After the diagnosis, I started treatment with a triple-drug regimen known as CyBorD (Cyclophosphamide-Bortezomib-Dexamethasone) weekly for a planned 12 weeks until May after which I was to receive a stem cell transplant (I supplied my own stem cells). But I delayed the stem cell transplant in order to take a trip in June to the British Isles with my daughters, Anna and Carolyn, that we’d been planning for 2 years and had booked about a month before my diagnosis. I underwent my stem cell transplant on 30 July 2015 at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland. I started Revlimid (lenalidomide) maintenance therapy in November 2015 following the recommendation of my local oncologis, Dr. Antoine Chahine. He told me that (at that time) there was good data supporting the use of Revlimid at maintaining remission for at least 3 years post-stem cell transplant. (The data is even better now, supporting its use for 5-6 years post-transplant!
I have been on the Revlimid since (3 weeks taking it once daily, then a week off) for over 3 years now. I have been in remission with no signs of recurrence of the Multiple Myeloma since starting it. Every 3 months I have a complete Multiple Myeloma Panel set of lab tests done before my office visit with Dr. Chahine. We’ve both been cautiously optimistic that I will continue to remain in remission for many years to come as long as I tolerate the Revlimid without any serious side effects—which I can happily report I don’t have. Which leads me to why I wanted to take part in this fund-raising bike ride.
Without the research funding provided by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), I feel that I might not have been here to write this blog and take part in this ride. Through their efforts, and the efforts of many others, there has been an explosion in new medications approved to treat MM over the past 10-15 years, two of which I directly benefitted from: bortezomib (Velcade) and lenolidamide(Revlimid). I don’t want to think about what the past 4 years would have been like for me without access to these life-saving medications. I am healthy, working full-time, and have pretty much resumed doing everything I did before I was diagnosed. I have been fortunate and have benefitted from these new medicine and treatment discoveries that have been funded and supported by the MMRF. It is now time for me to pay it forward by helping the MMRF to continue to provide life-saving research funding for MM medicines and treatments.
The first time I heard of these MMRF fund-raising bike rides was in 2017 when Tim Nash, a member of my local MM Support Group, caught up with them as they passed through the Youngstown-Warren area on their cross-country endurance ride. Tim joined them on their trip through our area and was asked if he’d like to join them on the last leg as they finished in Connecticut. He did, enjoyed it, and committed to the ride and fundraising for 2018. Tim completed the ride in Utah in September of 2018, surpassed his fund-raising goal, and could not be more enthusiastic in his recounting of his experience on the ride as a member of the MMRF team. He convinced me that this is a challenging and rewarding experience that will help raise funds for treating and awareness of MM. So, I too (Tim is riding again this year), decided that I wanted to be part of this experience and will be riding in this year’s endurance ride.
My goal is to raise $6000 in donations to the MMRF. I hope that you, my family and friends, will think about and make a donation of support for me for this worthy cause. Please donate whatever you can afford $5, $10, $25, or more as your situation allows. I will be extremely grateful for your help and support in achieving my goal. I would also ask that you spread the word to other members of your families, friends, and acquaintances of my upcoming ride in hopes that they, too, would consider making a donation of support.
I am registered on the MMRF website and have a direct URL link (imagine me setting up an URL link!) to my web page: endurance.themmrf.org/R2VVermont/BrianSabolRide2019 where you can keep up with my training and fundraising progress as the ride approaches. You can also directly donate towards my fundraising goal at this site. If you’re wondering how much of my donation will actually go toward research funding I can tell you that over 90% of money raised by the MMRF are dedicated to research funding. You can compare their ranking to other charities on the Charity Navigator website.
In closing, thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I will start training for the ride in February and will provide updated blog posts over the coming weeks and months.