Los Angeles 5K Walk/Run
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Simon Bray as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2016 MMRF Team for Cures: Los Angeles 5K Walk/Run.
Posted October 2016
Simon was the in healthiest and best condition of his life in May 2015 at age 45. He was doing cross-fit four times a week and was feeling great. Simon and his wife, who had a 2 ½ year old son, were expecting a baby girl at the end of July. He loved his job in television as a horse racing analyst for TVG. Simon got to travel all over the world covering the sport he loved. Life was good.
He had a nagging pain in his back for a few months but didn’t think much of it, as it would come and go. During a routine workout, Simon broke a vertebra in his back. It was a rare fracture. His doctor therefore ordered a battery of tests and scans. Unfortunately, the results of those tests turned the Bray family’s life upside down in an instant. The diagnosis was multiple myeloma.
It was truly devastating news. Simon couldn’t believe it. He didn’t drink often, didn’t smoke, was fit, and ate a healthy diet. He was younger than the average age of onset and to him it just didn’t make any sense. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to.
“I had a very complex back surgery to repair my T-9 fracture to stabilize my spine, then began radiation, then a chemo protocol for 4 months. During all this, my daughter was born. I had just had back surgery and barely made it through her birth. It was a very difficult time for me and my family.”
In January 2016, Simon checked in at City of Hope Hospital for a stem-cell transplant. He was prepared for the worst. Because he had heard horror stories and was truly frightened. Much to his surprise, his body handled it well and he was released in only 13 days which actually set a record. Thankfully being in such good physical shape helped him through the process. The competitor in Simon was thrilled.
Over the last few months, he’s completed a continuation chemotherapy protocol and is now on a maintenance chemotherapy protocol. Simon has been back at work for several months and for the most part, has been able to resume his life, his workout routine and enjoying time with his family. Since the day of his diagnosis, Simon has been lucky to have his wife, Danielle by his side. She has been the utmost source of strength, being his caregiver, taking care of their son and welcoming their baby daughter into their family. She is truly remarkable. He knows why he married her 14 years ago! Simon is now in remission and planning on enjoying every moment of it!
When Simon was diagnosed, Dr. Amrita Krishnan at City of Hope, gave him the MMRF website as a resource. After spending some time on the site he was very impressed and wanted to do his part to support the cause.
Simon heard about the MMRF Team for Cures: Los Angeles 5K through Dr. Krishnan during one of his appointments. She is the honorary chair of the race. Since it’s a local event, he saw it as a great opportunity to get involved and raise money and awareness for the MMRF.
Simon feels that being given the Spirit of Hope Award is an incredible honor. As devastating as his diagnosis was and is, he knows that he has a unique opportunity through working in media to try to bring about a cure and also to speak for others who deal with this disease on a daily basis. It’s not an opportunity Simon takes lightly. So many people have reached out to him from all over the world who are either facing this disease or who have a loved one facing this disease. It’s been remarkable. For a disease which is considered rare, he’s been struck by how many people he knows through association have battled or are battling this disease. Danielle’s coworker ended up losing a son to multiple myeloma, Simon’s father-in-law’s best friend was recently diagnosed, a family friend is going through treatment…he could go on and on.
“We simply have to find a cure or we have to develop new treatments which can successfully make this a chronic but manageable condition-no more lives can be lost. We have to find a way forward and I’m happy to do my part to make that happen.”
Today, Simon wakes up every morning to two kids under 4 years old (his daughter was born last year just a month after his diagnosis) and he knows that he simply has to persevere. He is a very competitive person by nature and wants to beat this. He wants to win. On days when Simon is fatigued from his chemo treatment, or when he catches a cold from his kids which nearly hospitalizes him, he reminds himself that he’s okay, that he has to be okay. The alternative is simply not an option for Simon and his family.
“I have to push through. My wife and kids need me. My daughter is only 1-I have to walk her down the aisle one day at her wedding. Anything else is unacceptable.”
The MMRF works tirelessly to find a cure to extend the lives of patients, just like Simon, and is proud to honor Simon Bray as the 2016 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. Simon Bray has touched the myeloma community with his strength of character, his kindness, and his embodiment of hope.