KSU alum climbs Machu Picchu for multiple myeloma awareness


0916 Machu Pichu

Mallory Cox

Paul Bassett, a 2011 Kent State graduate, embarked on a 28,888-step hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru, in August. It wasn’t just an adventure to mark off his bucket list, however; Bassett made the journey to raise awareness for multiple myeloma.

According to the American Cancer Society, multiple myeloma is an uncommon cancer of the blood formed by malignant plasma cells that affects one out of 143 people.

Bassett was part of a team of 20 to climb Machu Picchu, including four multiple myeloma patients, a myeloma doctor and four myeloma nurses.

“We had multiple myeloma patients along with us accomplishing this, and that really was awesome to be side-by-side with them doing something like this,” Bassett said.

The team was also joined by a group of photographers that captured the climb for a documentary. At the beginning of the journey, a photographer asked Bassett what he was thinking.

“Now is not the time to think,” he said. “It’s (time) to put one foot in front of the other, and that’s it.”

The team came together as a part of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Team for Cures, a smaller part of a program called Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma. Together they raised $155,700 for research.

“To my teammates, to all those who supported me, and in honor of those who have to wake up with this disease every day, this one is for you,” Bassett wrote in a blog post for Moving Mountains.

Before obtaining a Bachelor of Science in nursing at Kent State, Bassett earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in analytical chemistry from Youngstown State University.

Bassett has worked hands-on to develop pharmaceutical drugs and anti-cancer drugs. He currently works as a clinical operations manager at the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium.

“As a nursing student that will be entering the field in a year, it is important for me to find where I belong, and hearing stories like Paul’s helps,” said Mercedeze DelGrande-LeMaster, a junior nursing major. “It shows students that when you’re doing something you are passionate about, you will succeed.”

Mallory Cox is an alumni reporter, contact [email protected].