Havasu Falls/Grand Canyon Trek2018

Tamara Smith

I was diagnosed with IGA Lambda light chain Smoldering Myeloma in early 2017. It was after about 8 years of searching for answers to why my body was struggling to keep up and constantly sick. I was also diagnosed with Common Variable Immune deficiency at the same time. It was a relief to finally get answers and start to fight the new dragon instead of a shadow. On the flip side it was also a struggle to accept the mortality that was thrown at me. I joined online forums on Facebook that connected me to other patients. It was comforting to hear about new advancements in medicine and my hope was restored when I was able to see how quickly research is catching up with this deadly cancer. I noticed a post about a hike to Mt Everest. I have always loved hiking as a hobby, having spent some of my childhood in Oregon. I followed Gary Rudman's posts on his Base Camp trek and it hit me that I don't just have to watch someone else climb mountains. I can too! My biggest challenge was to fund raise. I have always been independent, so asking for help hurt to my core. To acknowledge that I can't save myself alone was a very humbling thing. I need researchers to find a cure, I need assistance on my bad days. I had to let go of my pride and ask for help.

I started training as soon as I was accepted. I do have catch up to play, but I feel my muscles awakening from the short slumber they were in this last year. My lifetime of being active is paying off. Each day for decades I exercised, not thinking I was doing enough. But it is finally paying off. I was enough and I am still enough. I'm grateful that even at my lowest points I tried to preserve my health. I know I need doctors and medicine to save my life, but I am going to prepare myself for that challenge when it comes. This hike started my body moving, that was the first mountain. Now I'm going to climb. I am proving to myself that life does not end with a diagnosis. It's the birth of a more pure existence. The small things fall away and you take the chance and climb the mountain.

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