June 22, 2014, Toronto — She took the train from Boston to Buffalo last night, and then woke up at 4:30 a.m. this morning to drive from Buffalo to Toronto, just so that she could walk by my side at the 2014 Journey to Conquer Cancer. This crazy, beautiful, irreverent, feisty friend of mine is Lu’Wana Harris! She was among many friends and colleagues who joined our team, “Munira’s Journey”, to raise funds for Multiple Myeloma research. The youngest participant on the team was 2-year old Nathan, a real hit with the fire-fighters! He was joined by recent émigres, Emma and Julien, who’ve just moved up to Toronto from New Jersey. And Maggie, another youngster, was a second time participant who showed off her cheerleading prowess with her mom Ginger! Munira’s Journey also had a cheerleading squad and they sported placards, high-fives and free smiles as they cheered on the more than 3,000 walkers that participated in the walk.
This is the third year that I have participated in the Walk. The first year, I sat on the sidelines, too sick to walk. I had bandages around my hickman line. I was frail and lifeless. I remember barely cheering my family on as they walked the walk — I was even too tired to clap! Last year, I had gained strength. I was declared to be in remission from the killer Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I had undergone a stem cell transplant to keep the Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma at bay. And so, I took to the walk with gusto – blonde wig and all – and managed to walk 2 kilometres. This year I was determined to walk the entire route, and with the help of my team, I did just that! Woohoo!
At the Walk, I met many friends who I have come to know through this journey. We belong to a club that none of us chose to be part of. Some of us are in remission – for now. Some are undergoing treatment. Some are on clinical trials. Some are struggling to hang on. What unites us all are our caregivers: the individuals in our lives — family, friends and medical professionals — who support us and give us a reason to live. They are the true heroes of our journey. And I salute every one of them. Some of the “Myeloma Club” members are extraordinary. They continue to support the cause in spite of losing their loved ones to multiple myeloma. I saw many of them at the Walk today and said a silent prayer for their loved ones whose spirit I felt throughout the walk.
Thank you to everyone that took the time to participate in the walk, raise funds and raise awareness of this deadly disease. A very special thank you to those who contributed so generously to the cause. Together the Multiple Myeloma fundraising team — 800 strong — raised over $500,000. And, overall the Journey to Conquer Cancer, in support of The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, raised $1.2 million !!
Funds raised will directly translate into life-saving treatments for those afflicted with Multiple Myeloma and other cancers. As the sign says, “We will conquer cancer in our lifetime!”
P.S. It’s not too late to donate. Please click here to go to my personal fundraising page: http://pmhf3.akaraisin.com/mmjourney14/MuniraPremji2014
or here to donate to our team, Munira’s Journey: