Machu Picchu2016


Cindi McNair

Thankful for Mountains

July 25, 2016

Tuesday, July 26

I open one eye and blink towards the blue illuminated numbers showing 5:50 a.m. With a stretch, I roll over and slip one foot on the floor, gently sliding out of bed. I dress in the dark, tip-toe past my husband, and quietly close the bedroom door behind me. Next, I creep past the dog in his kennel (who doesn’t miss a thing), giving me a quiet whimper-yawn as I sneak out the front door to my bike locked up on the front porch. It feels like it must be nearly 80 degrees and the humidity seems 90 percent as I swing my leg over my bike and roll down the driveway to begin my ride. Still sleepy, and with a yawn, I whisper “Thank you God” as I get myself ready to bike some hills, pump my legs and get my heart racing for six to seven miles of bike trails.

They say it takes the benefits of regular exercise for six to eight weeks to appear, and the investment in your health will be invaluable. I do feel stronger, and my husband even says I move like I’m stronger, as I’ve been doing this now for over six weeks now. Thank you God. A lot of people would be looking at this as terrific progress in creating a healthy habit of morning exercise, but to be honest, I am counting the days until I can quit! Walking and yoga are much more my style for sure.

But I am in training, getting ready for my personal Super Bowl if you will, because in less than a month I will be hiking the Inca Trail up Machu Picchu in Peru with a team of 20 people, most of whom I’ve never met. So I’m doing my best to get this bod in shape, as the better shape I’m in, the more I will enjoy the trek up 11,000 feet in the Andes Mountains to one of the most incredible places on earth. The hike is quite a reach for me. I’m not a hiker (haven’t hiked in 30 years since high school!) and I’m really not a biker (not since college when I peddled around 40 hours a week as a bike cop --OK bike patrol is the right language -- for two summers.)

But this is like a victory lap I am excited to be working toward. See I am a survivor, and this year I am celebrating a big victory. And as I pondered a way to celebrate, or give back, and be thankful, I became aware of an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for multiple myeloma (a blood cancer) through a program called Moving Mountains for Myelmona (MM4MM), through Takeda Oncology. As I learned about the opportunity, it seemed surreal that I could hike one of the most celebrated places on Earth to benefit others with cancer! The team consists of multiple myeloma patients, caregivers, doctors, nurses and researchers who have come together to raise funds and awareness for research.

Ten years ago this October I had a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma with the life expectancy at the time of five to seven years. I remember making the decision to take on this hike (and certainly jump out of my box) in January, being able to raise funds and awareness as I trained for the journey. It wasn’t really about the hike or about the mountain or even about this beautiful place, but rather a way to celebrate these 10 amazing and remarkable years of LIVING. Thank you God! Since then I’ve been climbing my own “mountain,” every day, one step after another, just keeping on keeping on -- working through remission, and relapse, and chemo drugs, pushing through the physical burdens to take another breath and appreciate the gift of every day's “view.”

So as I train and climb my mountain, I have so much to be thankful for, EVERY DAY. Having cancer allows me to live my life with intention, to not let the little things in life derail me (most days!) from what’s important. My gratitude builds as I train for my climb. And I’m counting the days to getting back to walking and yoga! Thank you God!

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