Melissa Pineo to honor sister, raise multiple myeloma awareness
Melissa Pineo, from Peoria, will take on Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern United States and the most prominent peak east of the Mississippi, to raise awareness for multiple myeloma. Ms. Pineo will be part of a 22-person team that will consist of multiple myeloma patients, caregivers, nurses and doctors, which will cover over 4,000 feet of elevation.
The climb will be taking place June 28-30, and is a joint initiative between the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, CURE Media Group and Celgene.
Ms. Pineo’s sister Carol was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2018 after about six weeks of excruciating back pain. An MRI revealed several compression fractures in Carol’s spine and many other lesions. Carol has been so much more than a sister to Pineo; she has been her friend, mother figure, role model and inspiration.
“Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs,” mayoclinic.org explains. “Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause complications.”
Multiple myeloma almost always starts out as a relatively benign condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). In the U.S., about 3 percent of people older than age 50 have MGUS. Each year, about 1 percent of people with MGUS develop multiple myeloma or a related cancer.
Carol’s strength and determination made Ms. Pineo want to do something to help. Ms. Pineo will be joined by her middle school best friend Bonnie Moore on this hike who has been helpful to Carol in the last year.
“Patients, caregivers, myeloma doctors and nurses and myeloma loved ones take on challenging mountains — Mount Kilimanjaro, the Grand Canyon, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Mt. Fuji and Everest Base Camp — to demonstrate that the advancements being made in recent years, funded and spearheaded by the MMRF, are helping patients live longer with a higher quality of life than ever before,” the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma website, movingmountainsformultiplemyeloma.com, states.
To date, the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program has raised more than $1.7 million, all of which goes directly to the MMRF. All told, the program has engaged a total of 151 supporters including 41 multiple myeloma patients, eight myeloma doctors, five myeloma clinical trial managers, three nurses and other family members of patients.