Machu Picchu2016

Jeff Stiles

Name: Jeff Stiles
Age: 46
Hometown: Kodak, Tennessee
Why I’m Climbing for the MM4MM Team: I’m climbing for the MM4MM Team to show others that a diagnosis of cancer doesn’t have to weaken you; in fact, it can make you stronger. I hope to show that with the right attitude, one can discover what’s truly important to them.
My Story: In March of 2014, I was a week away from graduating from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA. I was completing an obstacle course known as the Yellow Brick Road. The course spanned a vast wooded area on the US Marine Corps base in Quantico. When I couldn’t catch my breath during the final portion of the course, I became really disappointed with my performance. I finished, just not as well as I would have liked.

For a few weeks afterwards, I just thought that I was terribly out of shape, as I continued to try to run harder to improve my conditioning. What i didn’t know until May 28 when I finally went to the doctor, was that my kidneys were failing, and my blood was filling with myeloma cells where my oxygen-carrying red blood cells should have been!

After several weeks of treatment in Knoxville, my wife and I traveled to Nashville and the Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. On December 30, 2014, I received my own stem cells back into my body during my transplant. When I was able to return home to my kids and other loved ones, I tried to get just a little better each day. I would often go for walks with my wife and kids, truly noticing the beauty around me like never before. It was then, I think, that I truly developed a love for being outside and in nature. We soon found ourselves going greater distances and finding challenging trails in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I’ve learned to love hiking in the mountains and being outside. It almost has a spiritual impact on me, and always improves my mental state when I’m on a trail. This reason, as well as wanting to be an example of strength for others, has brought me to this point in my journey.

Thanks to prayers, tremendous family support, and great doctors, I'm in a VGPR and doing well! I want to participate in Moving Mountains for Myeloma to show others that attitude is critical, and that no matter what bad news you may receive, only you can decide how you respond to it! I think this mirrors the attitude that MMRF has as well. We can either get busy getting better and finding a cure, or we can choose to do nothing. Like the MMRF, I intend on pushing as hard as I can!

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