Monday, July 11, 2016

Mt Bierstadt conquered. Next up...Kilimanjaro

Perhaps conquered is too strong a word. Completed. Survived. Did it.

I'm back home from a quick trip to Colorado to meet my Kilimanjaro team and to train for Kili by hiking a 14er peak, Mt Bierstadt which stands at 14,060 feet. 16 people all instantly connected by a common goal. Team members are from across the country. I miss them already.

Including me there are 6 patients on the team. Terry from Alaska. Nancy from Sacramento. April from New York. Gary from South Carolina. Mark from Seattle. I shared a room with Mitch from Cincinnati who is climbing for his dad who has myeloma.

I arrived in Colorado Friday afternoon. Friday night I couldn't sleep. I was worried if I'd be able to complete the hike. I didn't know how I'd react to the altitude, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Yes I'd been training. But I had chemo 3 days earlier, I'm getting older and I am generally always low on blood, which as we know is crucial for moving oxygen through the body.

Saturday we ate breakfast and went to the trail head. The hike started at 8 AM. The rocky peak of Bierstadt looked a million miles away.  We reached the summit as a team around 1:30. 6 miles of climbing. I made it. Arriving at the peak, the emotions flowed from all of the patients. We've gone through a lot. I was a crying mess.

I felt pretty good at the peak. No problems with the altitude, That's a very good thing. Kilimanjaro is 19,000 feet high. That's Bierstadt plus 5,000 feet. My legs will a little sore but I figured the downhill return hike would be a piece of cake. Nope. I was in the last group to finish, arriving back at the trail head at 6. 12 miles and 10 hours of hiking. I was exhausted. My legs were jelly. My feet were aching. But it was done and I did it. Wow. Sometimes I mentally block out that I am old and have cancer, and for a moment I was disappointed with myself that I got so beat up by the mountain. That's silly sure, but it's still a thought that crossed my mind.

 Stepping back though, I am super happy and extremely proud of myself. This is definitely a life altering event. Whereas before the hike, I had a bit of worry about going to Kilimanjaro, now I am nothing but excited. I know what training I need to do and I know I can do it. Guaranteed.

Sunday the team/new family ate breakfast together, exchanged phone numbers and headed back to our homes. On to Kilimanjaro. Thanks everyone for the support and motivation.

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Berenson Oncology Success Rate

 Some reading about my myeloma specialist's success rate. A press release and an article from Targeted Oncology.