The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) is an organization born out of necessity. Its founder, Kathy Giusti, was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer called multiple myeloma in 1998. With limited research funding, no effective treatments, and few clinical trials, the life expectancy of this rare and fatal cancer was only three years. But Kathy was determined to beat the odds and, along with her twin sister, created the MMRF to help in the fight. Now, 20 years later, the MMRF has become a world-renowned cancer research organization that has tripled patient life expectancy and built the largest genomic dataset of all cancers. And Kathy is still at the helm of it all, fighting for a world where every person has precisely what they need to prevent or defeat multiple myeloma whenever they need it.
For three young professionals in the Chicagoland area, the MMRF is a shining light in an ugly fight with so many unknowns. Claire Cosgrove, whose father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2009, explains, “From the very beginning, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has supported my family through this terrifying, brutal journey. Before my dad’s diagnosis, we knew nothing about the MMRF, and now we do not know where we would be without them.”
Claire and her family are like so many others who find hope and strength from this organization. Alyssa Friedberg, whose mother was diagnosed in 2008, says that her mother is alive today because of the medications the MMRF has discovered. “When my mom was diagnosed, she was given three years to live, and that was over 10 years ago. These people, and this organization, have changed the course of our journey through multiple myeloma. Through this scary diagnosis, three stem cell transplants, dialysis, multiple surgeries, and fighting like hell, the MMRF has been with us every step of the way.”
Claire and Alyssa, along with Michael Horwitz, are co-chairs of the MMRF Chicago Young Professionals, and are gearing up for their 5th annual Mingle for Myeloma event. The event is a wonderful evening full of food, drinks, live music, multiple myeloma education, and fundraising for the organization that has done so much for their families.
“My father fought this horrible disease for 11 years, until he passed away in 2011,” Michael Horwitz. “I was a 21-year-old young man when he died. He was initially given just three years to live. I think about him every day, but I also think about that initial prognosis, and I smile when I think about how he beat those odds. Those 11 years were crucial to my life, and my dad knew how important they were to my mom, my sister, and me. That, along with great doctors and support from the MMRF, propelled him to fight the good fight. Those 11 years are always in the back of my mind when planning for Mingle for Myeloma.”
Mingle for Myeloma will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Moonlight Studios in Chicago. Tickets are available for purchase online, and the group is excited to beat their fundraising efforts from last year of more than $85,000.