Machu Picchu2016


Jeff Stiles


September 27, 2016

Wednesday, September 28

It’s now been about six weeks since my wife and I returned from our trip to Machu Picchu as part of the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program. While on the trip, I often had the feeling of being overwhelmed — overwhelmed with the idea that I was in the Andes Mountains in Peru, overwhelmed that the Incans were able to create such magnificent structures with little more than determination and willpower and overwhelmed that all these people that were with me on this journey would do something so extreme, just to help make me better and get us closer to a cure for my disease.

That same sense of being overwhelmed returned a couple of weekends ago when I attended a patient summit in Oak Brook, Illinois, put on by the MMRF. I was so grateful to reunite with three of my tripmates, Dr. Jeff Zonder and his wife Silva (who is also a program coordinator for the Hematology-Oncology program at Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute), and my dear friend and fellow patient, Cindi McNair. As the program began, the coordinator asked the audience how many people in the audience were patients; nearly half of the people raised their hands. It was at this moment that I truly realized a couple of things: I have a lot of brothers and sisters who also have this illness and there are a lot of wonderful people who care deeply about finding a cure.

Patients with cancer — and particularly a patient of a rare type of cancer such as multiple myeloma — are part of a family that others may sympathize with, but cannot truly join. However, our Peru trip and the MMRF Patient Summit opened my eyes to the level of commitment and dedication exhibited by the caregivers, researchers, advocates and medical professionals who fight alongside us in our quest for a cure. I think this helps explain why, even though there are thousands who suffer from this disease, I feel like the considerable effort put forth toward finding a cure is truly for me. And for this, I cannot express my level of gratitude.

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