Meet Ellie Samson
MMRF Race for Research:
Since they first started dating at age 16, Ellie has been steadfastly at Barry’s side since long before the day he was diagnosed. The diagnosis, however, marked a turning point for her as an individual. “A lot of things change with this disease,” Ellie explained. “I never realized what a strong person I am. It’s an interesting adventure and opportunity to learn; you’re forced to reevaluate what’s important. We’ve been given some lemons, but we make lemonade.”
Ellie shares Barry’s belief in the value of living with a sense of humor. She is also very creative and enjoyed tapping into her talents to plan the MMRF Laugh for Life: St. Louis, making it a memorable experience while carefully controlling expenses to raise significant funds. “I wish more people knew what a great organization the MMRF is, which is why we’re trying so hard to get the word out within our own community. It’s all about the research. The MMRF has really been at the forefront of treatments, such an important resource to us and to others.”
Ellie also exercises her creativity at home with decorating - she has filled the house with cheery paint colors and artwork as well as with her own jewelry line. Signature jewelry pieces that Ellie has donated to the MMRF Gala Auctions have brought in thousands of additional dollars from appreciative guests.
Ellie's favorite pursuit is spending time with her grandchildren. Son Joel lives with his wife and children nearby in St. Louis, and Ellie and Barry take frequent trips to Seattle to visit their other granddaughter, son Joshua and his wife.
Like Barry, Ellie has made herself available to share insights with others who are struggling with multiple myeloma in the role of a caregiver and is refreshingly candid about her experiences. “My biggest frustration is that I can’t make him better, or make him feel better. I see treatments taking a toll but there is not much I can do. I just have to let him be.” Ellie admits that it can sometimes be hard to always be answering questions about how the patient is when it has just as much of an impact on her personally. The pressure to put on a happy face for others can be tiring.
Ellie planned a family dinner for some of the out of towners coming to participate in the St. Louis race. She said “We are so pleased to be honored, and this means so much to us because this is how we try to live our life. If you can’t give back, there’s no point. The MMRF will always be a part of my life.”
Barry and Ellie speaking at the 2008 MMRF Laugh for Life: St. Louis
Ellie busy crafting her jewelry line
Ellie's grandchildren Natalie, Jordan and Jonah