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Meet Valerie Malsch, MMRF 2024 Walk/Run: New York City Spirit of Hope Honoree

How did you get involved with the MMRF?

On April 26, 2017, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. After an initial round of treatment, I had a stem cell transplant and have been on Darzalex ever since. I am lucky and grateful to be MRD negative and to have access to the best myeloma specialists and drugs. Since being diagnosed, I have had seven more birthdays, enjoyed my summers, played tons of canasta, taken family trips to Mexico and romantic trips abroad, and celebrated several high school and college graduations. Jeff and I have celebrated seven more wedding anniversaries—and this year, we mark 30 amazing years. Last year, we celebrated my oldest daughter’s wedding. I am very lucky, and I know I am not alone. I have the most amazing family and friends who not only support me, but they also support a groundbreaking organization that is on the path to curing myeloma, the MMRF.

When I support the MMRF, it’s because I want to see more new drugs approved and I want more people to have access to innovative therapies and MM specialists. In just the last 7 years, many new drugs have been approved to treat MM, and because of that, I have hope no matter what the future brings. I want to live a long and healthy life. And I want that for you and your loved ones, too.

Since I was diagnosed in 2017, the MMRF has made great strides in the fight against cancer. Not only is it on the forefront of developing new drugs, but it also provides access to the latest online information and guidance through the Patient Navigator. And when new information comes out or I get confusing advice, someone is always there to help at the MMRF.

That’s why, with the support of my friends and family—and good people just like you —I’ve been able to raise more than a half a million dollars to support the MMRF. It’s the least I can do for the community that has given me so much.

Why did you choose to participate in the MMRF Walk/Run?

In reality, I did not choose to sign up for the MMRF Walk/Run; my friends did. My friends who were by my side when I was diagnosed, the ones who drove me to my infusion treatments, and the ones who stepped up when I was in the hospital for 3 weeks and 100 days at home after the transplant all wanted to do even more. The MMRF Run/Walk was perfect: matching t-shirts, hats and gloves, and a picturesque walk along the Hudson River, the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and money.

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?

I am grateful for the recognition, but my participation and work with the MMRF has always just seemed like the right thing to do. The commitment comes from MMRF’s mission, at least how I see it: developing new treatments and advancing access to those treatment no matter where you are located or what your financial means are. I am proud to work with this great organization and look forward to continuing to help in any way I can.

How have you found perseverance in light of obstacles? Please share any stories that have given you strength.

Other than the physical obstacles related to treatment, which now just seem routine, the mental shock of this diagnosis and always knowing this disease seems capable of reoccurring at any time, has been the hardest to overcome. However, mentors (and now friends) who have gone through what I am going through have been invaluable. Talking to someone with myeloma can provide critical information, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone with whom to vent. My friend Mary Jane has been my go-to person since almost the beginning, and without her, I don’t believe I would be in this great place I am in now. Because of that, I always make myself available to people newly diagnosed, again, to give advice, listen to them cry, and to provide encouragement that life can still be great, even with myeloma.

Whether you’re battling multiple myeloma yourself, accompanying a loved one on their journey, or caring for patients, I know you understand—this is not an easy road to walk, ever. What gives me hope is that the next dollar I raise or the next dollar I give could be the one that brings about the newest lifesaving drug … or even a cure!

Do you have a favorite mantra, quote, lyric that gives you strength?

You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

Anything to add?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate. I’m on maintenance therapy now, following a stem-cell transplant not long after my diagnosis. Each new drug that comes out could add years to my life and the life of someone like you or someone you love.

The MMRF is delighted to recognize Valerie Malsch as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2024 MMRF Team for Cures: New York 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.