Joann Gilbert - Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

Featured Supporter:
Joann Gilbert

Washington DC 5K walk/Run 2014

Spirit of Hope Honoree

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Joann Gilbert, as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2014 MMRF Washington DC 5K Walk/Run.

Joann’s Story:

Posted: November, 2014

Joann Gilbert was first introduced to multiple myeloma in 2008 when she was home alone getting ready to leave for work and took a hard fall down her stairs, resulting in a broken neck. Normally Joann does not carry her cell phone on her, but this day she had put her phone in her pants pocket. She called 911 and paramedics had to enter her home through her garage. She was then swiftly transported to Washington Hospital MedStar. If Joann had tried to get up she would have severed her spine. She had multiple breaks around her neck and lesions on her spine. In July 2008, doctors finally told her that she had multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. Her family and friends rallied around Joann and everyone teamed up to research the next steps.

Joann has never let multiple myeloma control her life. Instead she has always been in the driver’s seat beginning chemo, radiation, and physical therapy. Joann had surgery that August on her neck followed by three more months of chemo and then a stem cell transplant in March 2009, which kept her in the hospital for eight long weeks. Thankfully Joann has been in remission since her stem cell transplant.

“I remember calling my son one day and said to him that I was going to get in my truck and drive around the development,” said Joann. “After neck surgery, I have limited rotation. I cannot turn my neck but so far to the left or right. Will I be able to drive again? I drove my truck out of the garage and kept driving around my development. I called my son and said, “I’m back.” No more Metro Access, no more needing family or friends to drive me to doctor’s appointments. I went back to work, I started playing golf again, working in my yard, planting flowers and building brick patios.”

Joann has also done her best to give back to the multiple myeloma community. She has encountered many others diagnosed with multiple myeloma and reassured them that “there is life after myeloma!”

Joann is grateful for every day that she has been given to live a life surrounded by family and friends that love and support her in all of her endeavors. She is so thankful and truly blessed that she remains in remission and is able to celebrate and enjoy the greatest gift, a new grandson, Justin Yvan Gilbert. Joann is looking forward to the day when she can run or walk with him in the MMRF 5K race.

Every year family and friends who live out of town arrive on Saturday at Joann’s home. They get up early on Sunday morning and head to the MMRF race location. Following the race, TEAM GILBERT heads back to Joann’s home for brunch where she makes her famous french toast. It’s a time when they can reflect on the importance of family, friends, and the importance of helping to raise the necessary funds needed to find a cure for multiple myeloma.

At the 2013 MMRF DC 5K Walk/Run, Joann was determined to run the entire race. Her daughter-in-law, Shavalyea, kept her eye on Joann to make sure she was going to make it. When they were almost at the finish, Joann told her that she could not run another step. She took Joann’s hand and told her “you cannot give up, you can do it, you can do it” … and they crossed the finish line together! You’ve heard of the old proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” Joann’s village was TEAM GILBERT, comprised of family and friends that hung in there with Joann to get her where she is today.

The MMRF works tirelessly to find a cure to extend the lives of patients just like Joann, and is proud to honor her as the 2014 recipient of the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award, given at every MMRF 5K Walk/Run event to a person who inspires hope and shows extraordinary commitment to the MMRF. Joann has touched the myeloma community with her strength of character, her kindness, and her embodiment of hope.