Special to the
Opelika Observer

Auburn resident Meredith Powell will spend five days hiking in Iceland Aug. 7 through 12 to help raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
The hike is often called “fire and ice” because on a single day, hikers will come across lava fields and volcanoes and then alongside stunning glaciers. The hikers must be prepared for seven to eight hours of rigorous daily hiking with end-of-day destinations at the mountain huts situated in incredible settings.
There will be an assortment of geologic marvels, including volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, hot springs, gorges, lava beds, waterfalls and mountains. Additionally, the geothermal activity and colorful sulfur coming from the rocks coupled with the unique topography make this demanding mountainous hike otherworldly.
The MMRF Team for Cures raises funds for cancer research. The organization was created to accelerate cancer research, particularly for multiple myeloma and speed the development and approval of new treatments. Multiple myeloma, currently an incurable blood cancer, is the second-most common blood cancer after non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Powell shared in a statement that she will be doing the hike in honor of her mother Dianne.
“My mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2013, just three months after her 50th birthday. It was found incidentally and by chance, when she was having blood work done to obtain long-term care insurance. Her cardiology lab work showed an M-protein spike, spurring on more tests that resulted in a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. While she is in the smoldering stage now and at 25% cancerous bone marrow, her doctor has determined that through quarterly lab work, they will monitor her percentage of cancer cells in her bone marrow, and track bone lesions and kidney involvement. However, since her diagnosis, her protein levels have continuously risen, while her hemoglobin levels continually drop, indicating progression of the disease.
Over the past six years, I have heard the fear in my mother’s voice every three months when preparing to go in for blood work and labs. She describes each visit as “a waiting game,” when inevitably she knows there is a huge chance that one day she’ll go in and learn that her cancer has gone active and it will be time to begin treatment. I want there to be a cure so badly, and I believe the MMRF can do that. I believe a cure is in the near future. Treks like this can help bring awareness to multiple myeloma and raise money toward the cure that my mother and so many others so desperately hope for.
Between my mother’s multiple myeloma and her heart failure (which resulted in the surgical implantation of a pacemaker/defibrillator in the same year of her MM diagnosis), I have seen my mother’s ability to be physically active decline greatly. Since her diagnosis, she has vowed to always do whatever she feels she can physically do to experience life to the fullest, but she tires very easily—from something as simple as showering and drying her hair. I know that my mom would love to do a trek like this to raise awareness of the disease, but physically a trek like this would be nearly impossible. I am trekking in honor of my mom and to raise awareness of the cancer that affects her and thousands of other patients.”
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. Since its creation in 2016, MM4MM has raised nearly 2.5 million dollars, 100% of which goes directly to cancer research. In 2019, Celgene and GSK have joined the effort as sponsors.
Patients, caregivers, myeloma doctors and nurses, and myeloma loved ones take on challenging mountains — Mount Kilimanjaro, the Grand Canyon, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Mt. Fuji, and Everest Base Camp — 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.
“The success of these events is directly correlated to the passion of each hiker who not only takes on the challenge of these hikes, but makes a difference in the lives of patients with multiple myeloma. These caring individuals reach out to their friends, coworkers, and family members, who in turn contribute whatever amount they can,” said Team for Cures Associate Director Jane Hoffmann. “Everyone walks away from these events inspired and rewarded knowing they’ve positively impacted the lives of patients.”
In 2008, the MMRF started an endurance charity program that has since grown to include a select group of world-class events that range from the TCS New York City Marathon to the IRONMAN Lake Placid. In 2019, the MMRF Endurance Events Program will raise more than $3 million with 750 athletes, bringing the 10-year total funds raised to more than $23 million.
To support Powell, visit endurance.themmrf.org/2019Iceland/meredith.
For more information, visit www.endurance.themmrf.org or contact Hoffman by calling 203-391-4053 or email at HoffmannJ@themmrf.org.