Jeff Monsein and Rachel Overcash - Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

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Jeff Monsein and Rachel Overcash

Charlotte

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Jeff Monsein and Rachel Overcash as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honorees at the 2017 MMRF Team for Cures: Charlotte 5K Walk/Run.

Jeff Monsein and Rachel Overcash

Posted September 2017

Rachel’s dad, Jeff, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March 2012. The diagnosis was a shock to them all – Jeff was, and still is, a very active person and overall maintained his health with vigilance. He was diagnosed on a Tuesday and was scheduled to have his port put in that Friday to immediately start chemo. Luckily Rachel’s mom suggested a second opinion with a myeloma specialist. Her dad saw specialists at both Dana Farber in Boston and Duke in Durham and discovered his myeloma did not warrant immediate treatment as it was smoldering.

While her parents were trying to navigate this new cancer diagnosis, Rachel was wondering what myeloma even was. Her research is what led her to the MMRF. There was a great deal of information on the MMRF’s website that helped her to understand what was going on as well as what could be in her Dad’s future. Right around the time of the diagnosis she was watching the Netflix documentary “Inside Harvard Business School” in which the MMRF was mentioned. She was shocked because she had never heard of multiple myeloma before her dad’s diagnosis and now it was on TV. It profiled the story of Kathy Guitsi and Rachel took it as a sign that she needed to be involved with the foundation.

Rachel had been following the MMRF on social media when she saw a Facebook post about the first Mt. Kilimanjaro hike. She was in awe that a team took on such a feat while raising money for myeloma research and thought it was an incredible concept. She said what amazed her even more was that patients themselves were participating in these adventures. When Rachel found out the moving mountains program was going to be doing a Mt. Fuji hike next, she brought up the idea to her parents. She told them it was something she felt like she needed to do in order to support the MMRF and bring awareness to the disease. She knew that her Dad might be the recipient of some of the drugs that the organization is working so hard to bring to market. Rachel was surprised and elated when her dad agreed to do this hike with her if they should get selected.

“It was incredible to think that 5 years ago I didn’t know if my Dad would be here for anything, let alone a bucket list trip to Japan hiking an iconic mountain together.” – Rachel

They completed the Mount Fuji hike in July of 2017. The summit was such an amazing and humbling experience for them both. During this experience, Rachel watched 6 patients – all of varying stages of the disease – get up and down that mountain. It was physically and mentally exhausting. When Rachel thinks of perseverance she think of their team and the strength that it took to get up that mountain. She said she also thinks of her father and the strength he has shown. “A cancer diagnosis changes you. It changes the way you view the world and the way that you do things. It changes the way you interact with your family and the things that you take for granted. It teaches you that life is so precious and things can change instantly. For my Dad, what it hasn’t changed is his desire to live his life to the absolute fullest.”

Rachel had been hoping that the 5K program and other MMRF events would come to North Carolina so that they could participate. She was excited to see the MMRF announce the first ever Charlotte MMRF 5K Walk/Run and got involved right away. Jeff and Rachel say they are humbled to be receiving this award. Their hope is that through the Fuji hike and their involvement in the MMRF, they have been able to bring awareness to the disease and open up the conversation around multiple myeloma. They have seen firsthand the awareness that has happened on a local level in their own community as an article about their hike was published in the local paper. Since then many people have reach out to Jeff sharing their own myeloma stories.

“It isn’t a cancer that is widely talked about or gets the attention that some other diseases do. What the MMRF is doing – through their Endurance teams, Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program, etc. is one of a kind and innovative.” Says Rachel, “My dad, myself, and the rest of our family will continue to support this organization. The hope is that one day, when there is a cure, we can stand proud that we were part of that journey.”

The MMRF works tirelessly to find a cure to extend the lives of patients and we are proud to honor Jeff Monsein and Rachel Overcash as the 2017 recipient of the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award, given at every MMRF 5K Walk/Run event to a person or team who inspires hope and shows extraordinary commitment to the MMRF. Jeff and Rachel have touched the myeloma community with her strength of character, her kindness, and her embodiment of hope.