Everest Base Camp/Kalapathhar Trek2018


Jeff Stiles

Treating Myeloma Like an Emergency

October 21, 2018

“Have you ever heard of multiple myeloma?” I remember hearing my doctor ask on that Friday afternoon right before Memorial Day Weekend, 2014. I had not heard of it, but I would soon know it all too well! Since then, it has become my nemesis and my constant companion, but also, my greatest blessing, and what drives me to pursue life to the fullest and to help people where I can.

Having spent most of my adult life in law enforcement and coming from a law enforcement family, I approached my new challenge as just what it was: an emergency. As any emergency responder will tell you, handling an emergency requires dedication, coordination, and knowledge. So, that’s what I attempted to do: find the best doctors and the best team of experts. One group of experts I was fortunate to find is the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF).

As I learned more about the MMRF, I read that they wanted to “move mountains” to find a cure. That instantly struck a chord with me, as I grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Going to the mountains is like going home for me, so I signed up with my wife Amy to hike to Machu Picchu in 2016! Along with a doctor, nurses, caregivers, MMRF representatives, and three other patients, we hiked, sweated, marveled, ate, laughed, cried, and fell in love with Peru and its people. Through all of this, I also realized something else: that the people of MMRF are absolutely single-minded about finding treatments and a cure for multiple myeloma.

That realization is what has kept me involved with MMRF. Not a day goes by that I don’t read an article, click on a link, like a post, or exchange a text or email with someone that has a connection to MMRF. In the period between Machu Picchu and now, I’ve tried to do what I can to help someone who has been impacted by this disease. Talking to a newly-diagnosed patient who is scared to death (like we all have been), or a caregiver who needs to know what to expect of a procedure or medication, I’m driven to do what I can to make something better for someone who is in my situation. That is why I was so excited to again be involved in a Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma, this time to Everest Base Camp!

When I tell people what I’m planning to do, I get a lot of responses, usually along the lines of, “Are you serious?” Am I serious? You bet I am, and so is everyone who is on this journey with me, whether their journey is to Everest Base Camp or through multiple myeloma. We’re serious about finding a cure, serious about helping people live longer, and serious about climbing this mountain. This, too, is an emergency. Let’s go!

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