When Things Come Together
August 25, 2016
Thursday, August 26
As I sort through the many photos taken, I enjoy reliving the incredible hike up to Machu Picchu. I was joined by a colorful cast of characters with all different backgrounds, each participating for their own individual reasons but brought together by the mission of raising awareness and funding for research of multiple myeloma. The trip and the people have left a deep impression on me.
In June of 2013, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I think it’s surprisingly easy to adapt to this kind of news. After all, while I’m not going to deny its personal significance — it didn’t really change anything too fundamentally. I consider this now an extension of who I am. In my world, having cancer is not so much a fight or battle, but a symbiosis of how I can live with my disease fluently and positively day in and day out. During the beginning of our MM journey, we were fortunate to have helping hands from family, friends and acquaintances alike — whether meals were delivered, our girls were taken for a long weekends and a stream of good deeds. And yes, it made all the difference in the world to us and left a branded impression to always exercise benevolence towards others.
I must admit, there were a few drawbacks living with MM, in my case, largely a lack of movement. After the surgeries on my spine, I had to gain back functional movement and strength. I learned and found that these problems start to sort themselves out after a while.
After training and preparing for the hike, I arrived following a busy week at work with basically no expectations of what awaited us in Peru ... except to stay hydrated. I did, however, arrive into this journey truly humbled and touched by the overwhelming support we received as we fundraised for the MMRF. I loved the mission to team up, build awareness and help fund research towards cure and hike to experience a wonder of the world. I felt great purpose to witness and explore how an Incan mountain kingdom was built by hand some 620 years ago in the 1400s and have it standing in pretty perfect condition today.
I enjoy the collage of images from the trip whether it’s how approachable and truly compassionate Dr. Z and Silva are to patients and everyone surrounding them, Melissa, who supports her friend Cyndi celebrating 10 years of life after her early MM prognosis; Shawn, who is serious about raising the bar for global MM awareness and pharmaceutical research; Michael, who needs to be on Comedy Central or run for office; Amy and Jeff, who define being super troopers; the Mount Sinai medical team plus Nyron, who are not only the best practitioners/researchers but helped us feel nostalgically fun again; the MMRF team, that roar to make a difference; Paul who wins best geared and most certainly best researched; Marty from CURE, who climbs mountains in a single bound and helps others find footing; Evelyn and Sanjoy, who are fulfilling their life dream; the very talented Ben and John, who aim precisely and are powerful directors; Alicia, our beloved ‘talk the talk but you must walk the walk’ leader; and Anne and Robert, who we feel blessed to have met as their relentless goal to raise MMRF funds and awareness is inspirational to us. While there is a definite and positive clinical aspect of being involved with the MMRF, the humanity that was so evident within our team helped us defy the gravity of the trek and all of the personal moments shared touched me in an everlasting way. I find myself often reflecting on the writer Per Olov Enquist’s wise comment: “One day we shall die. But all the other days we shall be alive.” This has become my mantra — one that I hope to heed daily as I embrace joys and challenges each and every day. Cancer research requires large amounts of funding. The donations made by individuals and companies play an important part for medical research until the goal of a cure is achieved. I don't know what could have happened to me and countless others had it not been for this level of advanced research.
I come back to the stream of endless photos, happy to know that there is a community of strong individuals that work towards making a difference — a community that I can now call my friends. It’s been three years since my diagnosis and I am feeling healthy and happy that we made the trek to celebrate living with a disease that I hope we can, in some way, conquer one day.