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On the Road to Victories: Janssen Employees Cycle for Multiple Myeloma

On the Road to Victories: Janssen Employees Cycle for Multiple Myeloma

Outpacing Cancer One Mile at a Time

Raising money and awareness for a disease like multiple myeloma is an ambitious goal. Jamie, a California native living with multiple myeloma, knows this all too well. On August 21, 2022, he will join a team of 22 cyclists to embark on a 200-mile bike ride in the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)’s annual Road to Victories event as part of their quest to raise funds for researching this rare, incurable form of blood cancer.

Sponsored by Janssen Oncology, the event has brought together patients, healthcare providers, advocates, Janssen employees, and others to raise nearly $2 million since its inception in 2017.

Riders know it is not for the faint of heart, but as they cycle along Maine’s northern coast and through Acadia National Park, they will be fueled by a strong passion to make a difference in the lives of people living with multiple myeloma. Every mile gets them one step closer.

Road to Diagnosis

Jamie’s first symptom of back pain in 2012 didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. But months later, when the married father of five suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down, he knew something was seriously wrong. Blood tests confirmed a diagnosis of multiple myeloma—a cancer of the plasma cells. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 34,000 people will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2022.i

Jamie decided early on to focus on fighting his cancer and advocate for others like himself living with multiple myeloma. “I’m going to go all the way to raise funds and awareness.” His philosophy remains constant. “What I fundraise might help to prolong or save my life, or if it doesn't help me, maybe it'll help somebody else one day.”

Although Jamie is numb from the knees down as a result of nerve damage, he thrives when he’s cycling and has participated in Road to Victories since 2019.

“I still have buckling and numbness, which will never go away, but you can't see it on the bike because I’m just churning. I'm on mile 80 and I'm just tired. I don't feel sick; I just feel free. It's a blessing,” he says.

Advocacy and Scientific Discovery to Improve the Patient Journey

For Matt Stella, who is the National Policy & Advocacy Director in Oncology at Janssen, multiple myeloma is also very personal. A rider in the event since 2019, Matt honors one of his best friends, Greg, who, at just 43, lost a 13-year battle with multiple myeloma.

“I have a very strong emotional connection to the fight against cancer,” Matt said. “Greg’s passing absolutely motivated me in my own work. It took me about three seconds to make the decision to join the ride.”

When asked what keeps him motivated to participate year after year, his answer is clear.

“You’re doing it for the MMRF, but you’re also doing it for patients, healthcare professionals, caregivers, and loved ones of anyone with an emotional investment in multiple myeloma. I have such gratitude and appreciation for the people I have met and connected with through this event. I am not only in awe of the part all these people play, but also truly humbled to know them,” Matt says.

Like Matt, Rob Forbes —a Janssen employee—has both a personal and professional connection to the myeloma community.

“The first year, I rode with my best friend from high school, whose mom died of myeloma,” says Rob. “That was very personal because I knew her growing up.” The people he has met on the ride keep him coming back.

Road to Victories empowers the patients who ride in the event to make a difference and allows those of us who get to know them to work even harder to find a cure,” he says.

While Rob is unfortunately unable to ride this year due to a shoulder injury, he has participated in Road to Victories since the very first event, raising more than $50,000 for multiple myeloma research to date.

“The evolution in myeloma research over the last ten years is incredible,” Rob says. “When I started at Janssen, the average life expectancy was three to five years for a myeloma patient. In getting to know patients on each ride, I’ve learned that every day truly matters. I’m so inspired to see riders return year after year to support this incredible cause.”

In late August, Jamie and Matt will embark on the ride, fueled by their fundraising goals and the cheering families on the sidelines—many of whom will have posters and photographs of family members they are advocating for or who they’ve lost to multiple myeloma.

While all of their stories are different, the Road to Victories riders are united in their commitment to raise funds for research in the fight against multiple myeloma. Learn more about how you can support the MMRF and help riders raise funds for future research in multiple myeloma here.

In September, follow Janssen on our social media handles to help us raise awareness and shine a light on patients fighting multiple myeloma and other blood cancers during Blood Cancer Awareness Month.


1 American Cancer Society. Key statistics about multiple myeloma. Accessed August 15, 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/about/key-statistics.html



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