Dallas 5K Walk/Run
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Ryan Anthony as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2016 MMRF Team for Cures: Dallas 5K Walk/Run
At 43 years old, Dallas Symphony Orchestra principle trumpet, Ryan Anthony, had just completed a guest appearance with his old group, Canadian Brass, and wasn’t feeling well. After many doctors’ visits his blood tests revealed that Ryan had Multiple Myeloma. Ryan immediately began therapy at Baylor’s Sammons Cancer Center and after began preparing for a stem cell transplant to be performed in the spring of 2013. Soon after his diagnosis, it was clear to Ryan that if he was going to beat this cancer the MMRF would likely play a big role in his fight.
“To see how much the MMRF has done in recent years was a huge source of hope and I decided that my career and ‘stage’ could be used to help the MMRF in its search for a cure. Obviously that’s the most important thing for me and my family right now in life.”
As Ryan prepared for his stem cell transplant and the unknown future thereafter, he was touched by all of the musicians who reached out to show their support. One of the phone calls came from Doc Severinsen who urged him to get back on the trumpet as soon as possible to make more music. “What I wanted was a chance to share the stage with him one more time—this alone would give me incentive to recover as quickly as possible,” Ryan responded. This became the battle cry for everyone who called him to show support to recovery. He thought how great it would be if everyone could make the same concert date all at once. It occurred to him that it would be great if there was a way for all of his supporters to gather to play a concert together.
“That would be a once in a lifetime event never seen or heard before. And there it was, a chance to make some noise, create awareness, and raise funds for multiple myeloma.”
After his transplant Ryan was dreaming about the idea of everyone coming together for a concert. He never thought it would actually happen but such dreams were exactly what he needed to keep going. His wife Niki said jokingly, “You can call it Cancer Blows!” They laughed and the next day decided that would be the name of the event.
Through the development of Cancer Blows, there have been incredible memories made due to so many amazing musicians, but more importantly amazing human beings. They are all friends so the behind the scenes are always very fun. There is lots of laughter, support, and tears. There was one moment Ryan will never forget in the main concert where he had his solo, Gabriel’s Oboe. Prior to the solo, the audience and orchestra stood to show their support. He was so moved and had to concentrate as hard as possible to keep it together as he knew he had to play. After the solo, he noticed all of the artists were standing off stage watching.
“I saw my friends and their tears and it was at that point I no longer was a performer or producer of the event…I was a patient in need of ‘family’ to surround me. I lost it emotionally as they all hugged me. Nobody made any noise back stage and I sat down and cried, emotions overflowing. Each artist took turns giving me a hug and soft words of encouragement. At that moment I knew I could beat the odds.”
Ryan has been fortunate to receive several awards in his career, but says that the Spirit of Hope Award may be the most important and meaningful. The nature of his career puts him on stage in front of others. He is used to being looked at but now his role has changed. He is not just a musician, he is a cancer patient living each day in the public eye, being watched on how he deals with this battle.
There have been hard days and concerts where he thought he did not do well due to treatments, but then would receive an email from someone who had traveled to see one of his shows thanking him. Because of Ryan they were able to show that others were in the fight and getting through it. This made him realize that what he is doing now is bigger than just him. On hard days he gets up to perform because others are expecting and needing to see that.
“I feel like my stage has changed and my performance is bigger than just music making now. If I can make a difference in others’ lives with my music then my life, regardless of timeline, is meaningful and full of purpose. Beyond that it’s easy to find daily strength with my children – they don’t care if I have cancer as long as I continue to be their father, not much else is needed beyond a hug from your child to give you strength.”
The MMRF works tirelessly to find a cure to extend the lives of patients and is proud to honor Ryan Anthony as the 2016 recipient of the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award. This award is given at every MMRF 5K Walk/Run event to a person who inspires hope and shows extraordinary commitment to the MMRF. Ryan has touched the myeloma community with his strength of character, his kindness, and his embodiment of hope.