DARIEN — Anne Burleigh is preparing to ride up to 246 miles across Utah’s National Parks over the course of six days.

Burleigh, a 59-year-old Darien resident, will do this as a part of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s (MMRF) Road to Victories cycling event beginning on Sept. 16. Janssen Oncology will be sponsoring the cycling event. In 2016, Burleigh was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

“The first thing I did once I was diagnosed was call the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation,” said Burleigh. “They are a wealth of knowledge and huge support group.”

The organization is headquartered in Norwalk and helps in directing people to doctors, or institutions in a patient’s area. They also have online services, said Burleigh.

“They’ve provided an enormous support system,” she said. “As well as providing the best research for multiple myeloma.”

The foundation gives invaluable information about multiple myeloma. It also helps to connect people and can provide a support system if they are without one.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs.

“The most important thing to do is find out where you can get the best care and make sure you have a really good support network around,” said Burleigh.

Most people when they get diagnosed have never heard of it, she said. For Burleigh, she was already aware. A friend of hers within her cycling group of only 20 people was diagnosed two years before her.

“The only way to get through the process is to have a great group of friends, family, caregivers and people who will listen to you,“ she said. “It’s extraordinarily important.”

Burleigh said multiple myeloma is a complicated blood cancer because it includes blood, the person’s bone and their immune system.

“It’s too much plasma that builds up in your bones. A lot of people find out about multiple myeloma by having either broken a bone or bone pain and having to go to the doctor,” she said. “I found out by accident.”

Burleigh said she went to the doctor to start the process of having a knee replacement. However, In order to have an operation, a blood test is required. After taking the test doctors discovered something wasn’t quite right.

“They continued to research why my blood wasn’t quite right and it turned out to be a multiple myeloma diagnosis,” she said.

The Road to Victories cycling event provided an opportunity to raise awareness for multiple myeloma as well as continue one of her passions. In 1999 she started cycling after tearing her ACL. She said she’s participated in sports her entire life.

“That’s what drew me to the road to victory cycling event,” Burleigh said. “They combined my interests.”

Burleigh said she would love to share her knowledge and education on multiple myeloma with people around the country. With the Road to Victories cycling event being an endurance test it also gave her a goal to train for, she said. The event also provides an opportunity for many to develop a support network.

“With these events, you get to spend four or five days with a built-in multiple myeloma support network,” she said. “Every person on these events is somehow touched by multiple myeloma. Whether they’re a caregiver, doctor or patient.”

Burleigh said hopefully she’ll complete the 246-mile ride, but if not she would participate in the optional hiking in Utah.

She said she first found out about the cycling event at the MMRF’s annual gala last year. She immediately she knew she wanted to get involved to raise awareness and money for the cancer research.

“These funds will help support the critical research that the Multiple Myeloma Foundation is doing,” she said. “Every dollar that we raise will go to cancer research.”

Burleigh said the cycling event in some ways mirrors her life.

“The bike ride itself is an endurance event and living with cancer is an endurance event,” she said.

She has been training with her husband Jon to prepare for the cycling event. She goes on 50-mile bike rides to prepare herself. Burleigh and her husband also rode 110 miles in one day for the Pan-Mass challenge in the beginning of August. This cycling event also raises money for cancer research, half of the funds also went directly to multiple myeloma research.

“The goal for me is to help raise funds for cancer research so that we may actually find a cure for multiple myeloma,” she said. “But my little goal in September is to ride 246 miles.”


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Road to Victories

For more information on the Road to Victories cycling event, visit https://www.roadtovictories.com/

Follow the #RoadToVictories hashtag on social media for inspiring stories from the team of cyclists as they ride to raise funds for myeloma research.