MMRF Cancer Fighter

Brooke Reid Roberts
Independent Events Manager

We feel fortunate to have so many remarkable colleagues here at the MMRF. From scientists to educators to business leaders, each member of our team is contributing to our mission of accelerating next generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend patients’ lives in pursuit of a cure. We want you to get to know some of these people too — what they do and why they love it — which is why we’ll be featuring their stories in our blog. Here, meet Brooke, and find out why she thinks she has the best job in the world!

My story basically begins on my 41st birthday, as I was driving to meet my husband for lunch in Boca Raton, FL where we lived. I got a call from Dr. Paul Richardson at Dana Farber that my numbers, taken from my bone biopsy a few weeks earlier in Boston, indicated I had Smoldering Myeloma. They really should preface these conversations with – “are you in a safe place” – since I almost then drove into a tree. I pulled off the road and he proceeded to tell me the scary statistics about being high risk, the rate of progression, survival, next steps. I was in a fog. All of this from a yearly physical and blood test from my GP where my protein levels were off. I really felt fine but had a few too many colds that winter in Florida and my amazing GP, Dr. Theodore Raptis, thought I should look into it further. From there I was sent to a hematologist and then to Dana Farber in Boston, thanks to my dear sister who headed up my personal research team.

As I always hear people say – nothing can prepare you for these calls in life – especially on your birthday. Obviously, I thought of my two children who were 4 and 10 at the time and also my husband, who is now my ex-husband. I am a glass half full type but this news threw me for a loop. From that moment forward it is a blur. I started IV Zometa (bone strengthening treatments) monthly and went through many tests and was closely monitored. I fell into a new normal. I tried to keep the fear at bay for the sake of my kids and then my ex-husband got a new job in New York City and moved up north. Long story short – the kids and I moved a few months later so that they could be closer to their Dad and since I was originally from CT and had family here, it made sense. Also, if I were to get sick I didn’t want to be so far from family or from a major myeloma center.

Living in a new town and getting settled I set out to make connections and went to the MMRF who had been so helpful to me when I was diagnosed. Boom – I ended up being offered a job in events, which was my background. As Manager of Independent Events I travel and work with amazing folks who create their own events to help the MMRF raise awareness and funds. All of their stories are so inspiring, most are patients or patient families and they are the true warriors. It is an honor to work with them each year. When I started at the MMRF, this program had about 50 events and raised about $500,000 and now seven years later this program has over 90 events and raises over one million a year.

The MMRF focus is on collaboration, helping patients find the right path in their myeloma journey, encouraging patients to share their data, and creating a large and innovative data bank to further accelerate new drugs into the clinic and one day find a cure.  This was and is revolutionary.

Seven years later I thankfully remain stable and closely monitored by both Dr. Richardson and Dr. Michael Bar at Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital. I consider this whole ordeal a blessing. Not only did it give me a deep appreciation for life and how precious it is, but I was able to take this diagnosis, make sense of it and help make a difference with a foundation that is setting the gold standard in cancer research. There are so many more options for treatment with myeloma now. I am now confident that if I do progress that there will be a new therapy that will knock it down and out quickly, and for good.

– Brooke Reid Roberts

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