Just back from a Scandinavian holiday, 39-year-old Mike Smith was looking forward to 2018. He was newly engaged and planning his future with his soon-to-be husband Ben. Prior to their trip, Mike went to the doctor for his annual physical. After returning from the trip, Mike received a voicemail from his doctor saying that he was very anemic, and that she wanted to run more tests. Mike spent the next month seeing various specialists and getting tests done, from endoscopies to colonoscopies, to reach a diagnosis. Since his diagnosis, he has gone through 18 months of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and has come out of it on the other side maintaining as deep of a remission as possible in myeloma for the past 3 ½ years.
That first night after his diagnosis Mike took action! He stayed up late educating himself about myeloma, ordering books, and connecting with another myeloma patient who was diagnosed 10 years prior through a work connection. By connecting with another person living with myeloma, Mike and Ben learned about the MMRF. Mike researched the MMRF and connected with its mission as well as Kathy Giusti’s journey. He understood from educating himself that one of the most important things he could do was take on an active role in his myeloma journey.
Nine months after being diagnosed Mike attend his first MMRF 5K Walk/Run. He decided to utilize the event as a way to announce his diagnoses, as he knew there is never a good way to “tell everyone”. He felt that the event would give him a platform to take action in educating people about myeloma, while raising critical funds for a cure. He was overwhelmed with support from his family and friends. His Team “Michael Myeloma” has raised more than $162,000 since first getting involved in 2018 through the MMRF Team for Cures: Los Angeles 5K Walk/Run.
Mike has taken an active role in his journey by mobilizing a community of supporters. For him, the event is inspiring from his supporters to the energy of his fellow myeloma patients. The first event gave him a new found confidence and determination in his journey forward. “When you feel like the bottom’s been taken out from under you, MMRF has been something that has rebuilt the foundation of moving forward,” Mike says. “I know if anything ever happens in this journey, they are the lighthouse. They’re there to provide direction and guidance. They’re the safety net. They are committed to figuring this out, to finding a cure.”