In 2016, Mayhul Patel’s mother, Pushpa Patel, lost her battle to cancer, but he has since taken up the fight. For the past three years, Patel has been an avid fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
As a result, Patel has been nominated for 2019 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man of the Year. The honor ultimately goes to the nominee who raises the most funds for the LLS Philadelphia Chapter. Over the course of his 10-week fundraising campaign, Patel hopes to raise $50,000.
On Dec. 26, 2015, Pushpa was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare and aggressive form of leukemia with no cure. The next 10 months of treatment were a lot of guesswork. When chemotherapy didn’t work, the doctors performed a bone marrow transplant. Pushpa’s youngest brother turned out to be an exact match, but the transplant didn’t work. So, they went on the next trial and the next treatment.
“It’s a waiting game,” Patel said. “What’s the next thing that will work? That’s really the whole process. You don’t know how long the person diagnosed will live.”
On Oct. 7, 2016, Pushpa passed away, but that didn’t stop Patel’s fight. During her time at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Patel spotted a poster for an event called “Big Climb Philly,” an event that challenges participants to climb the steps of some of the tallest buildings in Philadelphia and, in doing so, raise funds for LLS.
So, he told his uncle about his plans to participate in the fundraiser, and his uncle agreed to join. It turned out that several of his uncle’s co-workers were already participating, so they joined a team headed by Mary Pennington, a lymphoma survivor.
He returned to participate in Big Climb Philly and recruited friends and family to get involved. Along the way, he got to know Pennington, a past LLS Woman of the Year, who took notice of Patel’s fierce fundraising efforts. She nominated Patel for the 2019 honor. He is competing against four other nominees.
On March 27, Patel kicked off his 10-week fundraising campaign. He’s sent out nearly 200 letters to friends, family and colleagues to share his mother’s story and talk about his fundraising efforts. His campaign name is “LLS Cure for Moms,” which he says is because they want to find a cure for blood cancer so that every family can win the battle against cancer.
If Patel meets the $50,000 mark, a research portfolio will be named in honor of his mom. The money will subsequently go to a committee that targets specific scientists and clinicians who are most likely to make the greatest advances. Patel will then get a yearly report about their work and various breakthroughs.
He said while it’s nice to donate to big organizations, there is something special about knowing specifically where the research money is going.
“I get to feel like I’m involved in the process,” Patel said.
Patel will participate in Big Climb Philly on April 13, and his fundraising campaign will continue through June 8, at which time he’ll learn who’s raised the most money. He said he’s currently working on a couple of fundraising events that he plans to host between now and June.
The nomination has brought his network together with his sister, wife, family and friends all combining their time and resources to get the word out. Patel said he thinks his mother would be proud the family is coming together to spread the word about LLS.
“We have to support it,” Patel said. “I feel that’s our duty, to keep it going and raise awareness.”
Anyone interested in hosting a fundraising event or participating in the campaign can contact Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow the campaign or to donate, visit www.Facebook.com/LLSCureForMoms.