Havasu Falls/Grand Canyon Trek2018

Jessie Daw

I am participating on this hike as someone with smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM). I was diagnosed in late 2016 after several unexplainable bouts of illness over the previous couple years. While I certainly would rather not have SMM, I do think that my life is richer since my diagnosis. I was prompted to engage in some significant re-evaluations of my life, and while certainly a work-in-progress, I see life differently now, and in a way that allows me to be maybe more true to my soul (I hope, anyway).

I found out about the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program online, coming across their events often as I sought out more information about SMM. I wanted to get involved because, as my myeloma specialist has told me, I need time on my side and for research to advance. Also, I need to be as fit as I can be, as fitness during any treatments, should I progress to active myeloma, will only help me. Training for this hike seemed to be a meaningful “kick start” to a more involved fitness plan. To that end, I’ve met with a conditioning specialist to train for the hike, and have been lifting, do core and mobility exercises, as well as cardio training.

Despite my training, which has taken place pretty much at sea level or slightly above, I think I’ll be challenged by the elevation on this hike. The canyon top is about 5200 feet elevation, and we’ll go down about 2800 feet. And we all know, what goes down must come up! I’m hoping my training will have served me well.

This MM4MM trip has significant meaning to me as it will give me a chance to connect and network with others who have a connection to this disease. I don’t really know anyone else with SMM, beyond people I’ve met online. So, to be in a challenging environment and be a part of a team brought together by challenging conditions, will be really rewarding, I think. I hope to meet people that I’ll be in contact with long beyond our uphill canyon climb ends.

I’ve followed a few other MM4MM trips online, and so many of the people participating are inspirational. Probably the trip I followed the most is the Mount Everest base camp trip. Also, Sally Kalksma, who started running staircases competitively after she was diagnosed…wow, pretty impressive! And last but not least, my sister Sarah, who is training with me for this hike, has been an inspiration. We’ve shared our personal training challenges and I’m amazed at her perseverance and commitment to the training! I think this will be an unforgettable trip for us!

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