Following my Multiple Myeloma diagnosis, my children, Margaux and Adam, and his wife, Danielle, wanted to learn more about MM and wanted to find a way to make lemonade out of lemons. Upon contacting the MMRF, they learned about the Walk/Run and recognized it not only as a great way to fund additional research for finding a cure for MM but also as a way for family and friends to show support for me as I received treatment and dealt with the pain from the many spinal compression fractures caused by MM. Shortly after contacting the MMRF, they created Lester’s Legion team to participate in the walk. Participating in the Walk also provided me with an opportunity to inform others as to potential signs of MM so that they can get treatment before spinal compression fractures occur and limit their mobility.
The many emails that I received from the MMRF advising me that contributions were made on behalf of Lester’s Legion were utterly amazing. So many people who learned about Lester’s Legion in emails from the MMRF, on Facebook, or by word of mouth contributed to the MMRF and later participated in the walk. As more and more people donated to the MMRF and reached out to me, it gave me strength to fight this “unexpected journey,” as it not only showed me how many people hoped to find a cure for MM but also how many were there to support me, my wife, Donna, and my children. Like all cancer treatments, the treatment for MM is a long process that is often unpleasant. The MMRF walk/run provided me with the knowledge that I had a strong support group, which is needed to provide the strength to fight this “unexpected journey.” Moreover, as I was immunocompromised from the treatment, my contact with friends and family was very limited during the treatment. Seeing all the friends/supporters of mine, my wife, and my children at the walk provided me with additional strength.
The MMRF also provided me with information as to available treatments and, most importantly, how others have dealt with the treatment and coped with the MM diagnosis. I was also lucky enough that as friends learned about my diagnosis (when they learned about MMRF Walk/Run) they advised me that they had friends/family members who had MM. This provided additional information as to what to expect and how to cope. Reaching out to others who were dealing with the same issues helped to relieve the stress of dealing with MM. The information that was provided by others as to what to expect with the eventual stem cell transplant was especially helpful and reduced my stress level before, during, and after the transplant. I know that the advice provided by the MMRF as well as other MM survivors was a factor leading to my successful stem cell transplant.
I faced the same obstacles confronted by many other MM patients—coping with the diagnosis, the side effects of the treatment, and the pain and mobility limitations from the spinal compression fractures. I was able to persevere knowing that so many friends and family were there to support me and donate to the MMRF to help find a cure for MM. I called my battle with MM my “unexpected journey.” Each time I recognized a contribution to the MMRF or an email/text from a friend/supporter, I thanked them with a note acknowledging that their “support gave me the strength to fight this ‘unexpected journey’.” Certainly, the support from family and friends gave me the emotional strength to overcome the diagnosis, the side effects, and the pain.
I recognize that every MM patient, as well as every cancer patient, needs a strong support group to face the diagnosis and handle the treatment plan. To me, the Spirit of Hope award represents recognition of all the people who support their friends and family who are diagnosed with MM. It is these supporters who give MM patients the Spirit and “strength to fight this ‘unexpected journey’” with the Hope of remission and eventually a cure for MM.
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Lester Weinraub as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2023 MMRF Team for Cures: Philadelphia Walk/Run. Donate to his team “Lester’s Legion” to accelerate a cure!
This award is presented at every Walk/Run to a patient, caregiver, or family who inspires hope through their resilience, perseverance, and dedication to the MMRF and its mission.