How did you get involved with the MMRF?
I was a newly diagnosed patient in 2008. Dean Assink, an alum of the school where I was principal, heard about me and shared his myeloma story. He had given money to MMRF and suggested it would be quite helpful to me in my journey. Dean became my mentor in myeloma in those early days, and the MMRF became a huge help in finding a doctor and care as I moved from Chicago to San Jose.
Why did you choose to participate in the MMRF Walk/Run?
There were many reasons to participate, such as the challenge to get more physically active, the opportunity to get friends together, a desire to be part of the larger myeloma community, and the chance to raise awareness for patients like me. However, the ultimate reason was to extend the blessings that I had been provided by myeloma patients and caregivers who had forged a path before me and to those who would come after me.
The Spirit of Hope is given to “individuals/groups who inspire hope and show extraordinary commitment to the MMRF.” What does being given the award mean to you?
Being provided this award is a huge honor, as it is an opportunity to represent the patients and caregivers who have faced this disease with determination, grit, and perseverance. After 14 years since diagnosis, 14 drugs taken, 2 transplants, and 2 CarT trials, I am a great example of hope for the next treatment to come that might lead to a cure.
How have you found perseverance in light of obstacles? Please share any stories that have given you strength.
Faith in God surely helps, but when my faith or hope has seemed to fail, I have been loved and cared for in ways that few people ever experience in life. Friends, family, professional colleagues, neighbors, doctors, nurses, and caregivers have given me the deep and authentic compassion to face this disease and the next treatment with hopeful perseverance.
Do you have a favorite mantra, quote, lyric that gives you strength?
A favorite quote of mine is “Wander into Wonder.”
Anything to add?
I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many MMRF events to accelerate a cure:
· MM4MM Iceland 2019
· MM4MM Sweden 2022
· Washington DC Walk/Run
· San Francisco Walk/Run
· 20-mile Endurance Event
I am truly blessed to represent current myeloma friends, such as
· Annette Davis
· Angela Mignea
· Jeff Boero
· Ann Connors
· Laurie Culligan
I am beyond thankful for Dr. Wolf and the UCSF team.
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Erik Ellefsen as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2023 MMRF Team for Cures: San Francisco Walk/Run.
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. Donate to Erik Ellefsen’s 2023 Walk/Run fundraising page to accelerate a cure today!