Jen Moog is a mom, a wife, a writer, and a survivor.
In 2014, Moog, then 42, was the director of human resources with Johnson & Johnson, married with three kids, then ages 4, 6 and 7, when she first started feeling sick. After paying a visit to the doctor for an eye infection, doctors noticed that she had too much calcium, which at first she thought might be a good thing, until doctors kept her for further testing. The doctors discovered she was highly anemic, and they were concerned.
In the next 48 hours, “everything spiraled out of control,” Moog said.
Between being on a breathing tube and a feeding tube and going through dialysis, Moog was unconscious for the next week. Her husband learned about her cancer before she did.
Moog was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer.
Since her diagnosis, Moog has dedicated her energy to sharing her experience with others to raise awareness and to fundraise for a cure. This lifelong disease has not stopped her from pursuing her passion of writing and working on ways to help her community.
Moog, 46, is dedicating her time to lead a fundraiser after being nominated for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man and Women of the Year campaign. The 10-week philanthropic fundraising event, which began on March 26 and will run until June 5, is a way to raise awareness and to raise money for a cure to all blood cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, some symptoms of multiple myeloma include low blood counts, bone and calcium problems, infections and kidney dysfunction. The standard multiple myeloma patient is generally over the age of 65, overweight and/or African American. None of these describe Moog.
She and her husband Brian, 49, had never heard of multiple myeloma prior to her diagnosis.“It’s a scary thing to be told at 42 that you have cancer,” she said.
In the next six month, Moog went through chemotherapy and a STEM cell transplant. Her body responded well to treatments. Since 2014, Moog has been in remission and is focused on staying healthy and on her family including her children, Jake, 11, Kate, 10, and Shea, 8.
“We’re very vigilant about hand washing in my house,” Moog said.
Moog was first introduced to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in early 2016 when she served as a mentor for the Student of the Year campaign’s candidate, Julia Immordino. This gave her the opportunity to attend speaking events where she could share her story.
LLS funds research into new therapies to treat blood diseases, and has invested more than $1.2 billion. This volunteer health agency is dedicated to finding a cure for blood cancers, and to help improve the lives of patients and their families. LLS provides information for cancer patients to help them make informed decisions about their care and offers “support for patients, survivors, families and health care professionals,” according to the LLS website.
For the MWOY campaign, Moog and her team have the freedom to come up with any kind of events for fundraising with the support of LLS along the way.
“It’s certain that it’s a special honor to be nominated for the Man and Women of the Year Campaign,” said Michelle Evetts, senior campaign director with the LLS. “You are somebody who people view as someone who really takes charge and can be a leader, and who really wants to make a big impact on blood cancer research, and just in the cancer space.”
Moog sees continues to be awed by how many different people from all aspects of her life have contributed to her campaign.
“It’s amazing to see different people from different parts of your life pitch in,” she said. “I’m so touched by the people that are so generous.”
Moog has set a goal of around $75,000 at the end of her 10-week journey, but she is hopeful that the end total will surpass it. Additionally, each dollar raised by Moog counts as one vote. Whichever group earns the most votes is named Man of the Year or Woman of the Year.
Evetts said that the overall campaign has its own fundraising goal for the state of New Jersey: $615,000. There are 12 candidates in the state, including Moog.
“They’re all really determined and super inspired and dedicated to the LLS mission,” Evetts said. “They all really want to blow it out of the water and to raise as much money as they can.”
MWOY is not the first opportunity Moog has had to raise money for LLS. Moog has participated in the Princeton Light the Night Walk and has been apart of the top fundraising team, Game On, for the past four years.
According to the Light the Night website, the mission of this walk is to it “bring light to the darkness of cancer through research and cures.” She also received the Honored Hero for the Princeton Light the Night Walk in 2016. They’ve raised around $20,000 each year for LLS, and have been in the top five families since they first got involved, according to Moog.
In the summer of 2016, Moog decided get back into writing. Moog was a journalism major when she attended Trenton State College, and she decided to get back into writing to share her experience with others. Her blog, Multiple Myeloma Mom, is a space where she documents her journey with cancer, and shares her ups and downs.
“I have to get my voice back,” she said. “I have to tell my story my way.”
Blood cancers can be treated, but Moog still needs to take medication and have blood work each month. She has been in remission for five years, but after a scare in March, she is more determined than ever to raise money to find a cure.
“It’s a sad situation, but we’ve tried to focus on the positive,” said Moog.
Moog’s blog is online at multiplemyelomamom.wordpress.com. For more information on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man or Woman of the Year Campaign, or to donate to Moog’s team, visit pages.mwoy.org/nj/nnj19/jmoog.