News & Events

Meet Past MMRF Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma Athletes

Ashley Dobbs – Living with Myeloma
Colorado Trek

After a routine doctor appointment in September 2019, my life was forever changed – I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, The doctors and myself were in disbelief as very few patients are diagnosed at such a young age. I was young, healthy, and lived a very active lifestyle. This news was devastating to my family and me.

Almost two years later, I can now say that I have reached MRD-negative status after completing my stem cell transplant last May during the pandemic. I’m currently completing my final rounds of maintenance therapy and feel grateful that I will be wrapping up at the end of the year. I’m beyond thankful for my amazing support system with my family and friends by my side. I’ve been able to push through the only way I know how and that’s by staying positive, living my active lifestyle, and doing what I love most, spending time with my family.

I participated in the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program trekking Colorado in September 2022 to raise funds and awareness for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). I found out about this program from my husband as he signed me up when I was first diagnosed. He knew my love for the outdoors and thought this would be a great way for me and our family to bring awareness to Multiple Myeloma. I’m was so excited to be part of this program and looked forward to conquering these mountains with our entire team.

Cesar Rodriguez, MD – Myeloma Doctor 
Iceland and Patagonia Treks

For the past seven years, I have been dedicated to doing research and treating patients with myeloma. Even though studies have provided us with new treatment options that are allowing patients to live longer, the truth is that we have not found a cure. It is through the day-to-day interactions with patients that I learn the most on how therapies could be tailored to provide the best quality of life, but I have learned the most about living with this cancer after hiking a volcano in Iceland with five patients. The knowledge I have gained through their wins, their battles, and their losses far exceeds what can be taught in a class and pushes me to try harder, to enjoy life’s moments, and to accept our limitations.

Exploring new treatment concepts and discovering new therapies require extensive research, time and funding. It is with the help of organizations, drug companies and government funding that research opportunities arise to break boundaries and generate hope where there was none left. Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma is a great campaign to raise awareness on the achievements obtained from research, from challenging ourselves to bigger things, and to strive to overcome obstacles.

My first climb with this organizations sparked many research ideas, raised more than our goal for research funds and, most importantly, made a bond with a group of people I now consider family. Unfortunately, it often is more than one mountain that patients need to be climb while on treatment because of relapse or complications, so I will continue to climb mountains and shine a spotlight on them. I do hikes in honor of my patients who are going through their journey, those who have touched many lives, those who courageously have participated in clinical trials, and in memory of my dear aunt.

Donna (patient) and Bud (caregiver) Cowan
Grand Canyon Trek

Reason for Climbing: We want to do whatever we can to make a difference for patients like myself and for others living with multiple myeloma.

Our Story: Donna: I have always been active, being outdoors I love the best. I have always challenged myself to be the best that I can be and have been blessed with a great attitude and energy level to accomplish things I have desired to do thru the years.

In September 2013 I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, high risk, (the autumn after celebrating my 70th Birthday), one can only imagine the shock when the doctor told me I had 2 to 3 years to live. The myeloma had left bone lesions in my spine that caused extreme pain and until the chemo could stop the progress of the myeloma I was unable to move without help. It took a few months before I was functioning again. It was scary to be so disabled. It took a toll on me, I lost confidence in myself, and the fear set in, what if. Do I, Can I, Will I ever..?

I did what I have always told my children to do, “I picked myself up, brushed myself off and started all over again”. I searched for resources to help me be strong, mentally and physically, to live my life the best that I could, to change my attitude, my body and my everyday living. I have the most wonderful husband, best friend, caregiver beside me helping me all the way. AND, now I have accepted the challenge to “Conquer the Canyon”. WOW

Valerie Cekovsky – in memory of her mother
Patagonia Trek

In November 2014 I lost my mother unexpectedly to multiple myeloma. She had been struggling with the disease for three years and unfortunately the biggest problem was finding a treatment that would agree with her. Either the chemo would be working but she would feel awful, or she would feel great but the chemo wouldn’t work at all. Her kidneys started to fail and there wasn’t much to do at that point. She accepted her fate and passed the day before Thanksgiving in her sleep without telling any of us that she was on the brink of death. I’m the youngest of four children and the only girl, so dealing with her loss has been tough in many ways.

My brothers and I had been looking for the right way to honor our mom for years, but we couldn’t seem to agree on what to do. I stumbled upon the MMRF website a couple of years ago but never acted on anything. Then, I found myself back on the website and intrigued by the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program and decided to look into it some more. When I saw that they were going to Patagonia, I had to apply. I’ve not only been wanting to go to Patagonia, but I knew that this would be the perfect way to honor my mom coming up on the five-year anniversary of her death, and to kick-start our efforts to create a scholarship in her name.

I was humbled by the opportunity to be a part of this team and to raise money for research and awareness of a disease that took my mother’s life when it didn’t have to. I am grateful that I was joined by a group of inspired people that were also on the same mission. This was an incredible journey and challenge. The challenge of fundraising, the challenge of the hike, and the challenge to get the word out about multiple myeloma.

Reach new heights and accelerate cures in 2023!

Don’t miss your chance to take on epic peaks across the globe in stunning locations including Africa, Peru, and the USA. 

Apply Now!