In November 2019, Multiple Myeloma Project Manager for City of Hope, Lupe Duarte, traversed Patagonia, crossing over glaciers, through deep valleys, and ascending challenging peaks to raise awareness for Multiple Myeloma. Duarte was part of a 13-person team that consisted of Multiple Myeloma patients, caregivers, family members and doctors who braved the forces of nature for their cause.
Duarte and the team started with a flight to the “end of the earth,” arriving in El Calafate, Argentina before beginning the trek on the Perito Moreno Glacier (over three miles wide and 30 stories tall). According to Duarte, the team spent the next day trekking through the remote wilderness of Argentina, experiencing desert rocks, wet forests, pouring rain and Patagonia winds.
“I thought I had trained sufficiently as well prior to the trek, but you just never know until you reach your destination,” says Duarte. “I had a difficult time with my lungs due to elevation once I got there, but the team quickly came together and helped me through it.”
As the Multiple Myeloma Project Manager for City of Hope for a decade, Duarte has seen the progress made just in those 10 short years. Though there is no cure—yet—Duarte is committed to continue raising awareness of the disease. “Getting to know the four Multiple Myeloma patients on my team is now another ‘why’ as to why I will continue trekking in the future and why I will continue fighting the disease, through these treks,” she says.
Duarte is highly involved with all things related to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and is a liaison between City of Hope and the MMRF. “Though I trekked to raise awareness and funds for the MMRF, I still represented and honored the patients at City of Hope and our amazing doctor, Arti Hurria, who we lost last year in a tragic car accident,” explains Duarte. “She was dedicated to health and wellness, and I know she would have been proud of this trek! The team and our incredible journey moved mountains for the myeloma community—almost $250,000 raised and counting! I personally raised a total of $11,101.”