Nutley couple climbs Patagonia mountains to help find cancer cure

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An Essex County couple facing a major health crisis decided to climb the mountains of Patagonia to help raise money for cancer research.

Mike Mankowich, of Nutley, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2017. It is a rare blood cancer.

"Here we are, we're diagnosed with cancer. You get two choices: You can roll over and brood or you can fight back,” says Mike.

Mike says that his wife Kathleen was determined to find resources to help them defeat his illness.

“Anyone who loves anyone who’s had cancer, it’s what you do,” Kathleen says.

The couple found the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation – an organization that has contributed to several FDA-approved treatments. On Nov. 9 the couple was part of a team of 15 that trekked through Patagonia in Argentina to raise money for cancer research.

They say that they hiked through winds and weather that felt like all four of the seasons in just one day. They worked for every dollar of the $30,000 that they raised. The team raised $300,000.

“It's great to know that whenever that difference comes about, regardless of when it may be, we had something to do with it,” says Mike.

"We had some good laughs on this trip. And a couple tears, which were nice,” Kathleen says.

The couple says that the trip was worth it to show that even the rarest of cancers can be beaten.

"We're going to live happily ever after. I'm going to see my daughter off to college, I'm going to walk her down the aisle and life is going to be great,” says Mike.

Mike says that his cancer is now in remission.

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