WHAT DOES “SUCCESS” LOOK LIKE?

WHAT DOES “SUCCESS” LOOK LIKE?

 

On August 12, while my Class of ’76 alumni from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA will be gathering for a weekend of celebration at our 40th DPHS High School Reunion, I will be climbing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.

I’m disappointed to miss this one.  High school reunions become more important to me as time goes on, and 40 is a big one.  But I’m excited to take on my 3rd trek of the year as part of a program called  Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma (MM4MM).  Our Machu Picchu team of 20 hikers is made up of 4 multiple myeloma patients, 4 myeloma nurses, a myeloma doctor, and others who have a direct connection to this devastating cancer.

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In January, I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world with a team of 15, including 4 myeloma patients, a myeloma doctor and others who have been impacted by this cunning blood cancer.  In May, I had the privilege of hiking the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon with 3 patients, and as part of a team of 12.

So far our 3 adventure hikes have raised over $450,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF).  Thanks to our generous sponsor, Takeda Oncology, our travel expenses are underwritten so that we can direct 90% of the funds raised to cancer research.

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I always feel a bit of pressure at these reunions, since, besides being a varsity cheerleader and State President for DECA (a national student program focused on developing marketing and sales talent) in high school, and an over-achieving student, I was voted female “Most Likely To Succeed” by my 1976 classmates.

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I showed up “successful” at my previous reunions, at least in my own mind:  At my  5th, I was a UCLA grad, and working on my Master’s degree at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications while working at CBS. At my 10th reunion, I was a “successful” TV executive working in a glamorous  job at Warner Bros.   Later, I was working at HBO.  Yes, I was on top of my game, earning lots of money, traveling the country, getting promotions regularly, and all of that.

 

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By my 20th reunion, I had a different vision of success.  On the heels of all that hard work, I decided to opt out of the workforce to be home with my two daughters and be an important part of their development.  I also started to run marathons, and was involved in my community and the girls’ schools in my free time.  That was success for me then.

But today, success looks like this: Today, success is having created my dream job where I help people who are touched by multiple myeloma, a devastating  blood cancer, take on a bucket list challenge like the NYC Marathon or IRONMAN Lake Placid, or a run up the Empire State Building to raise funds for an outstanding organization that is funding and spearheading research that is saving the live of their loved one.  Or it means providing a challenging and life-changing experience for a grieving adult to honor his father, who lost the battle with myeloma.  Or it means walking side by side with myeloma patients, doctors, nurses and loved ones up some of the most iconic mountains in the world.

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Today, success looks like empowering people to take an active role in fighting cancer.  Today, success looks like spending my work days at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)  doing something that has a huge impact on someone who is looking for inspiration and hope.. and who takes part in these climbs to show the world that now – once again – they can.  And in doing so they help so many.  Today success means working for an organization that is disrupting the stodgy, slow cancer research industry and learning everyday how to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients.  And with this success is the reward of getting to know amazing people who choose to support this incredible foundation and who are grateful and inspiring and who share their stories – and indeed themselves – with me as we work together to fund research to find a cure.

 

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On a personal level, success looks like creating my own dream job from scratch in this second career in the non-profit world.  It looks like taking the skills I honed in the “for profit” workplace, in the rough-and-tumble high stakes sales world of TV syndication, and putting those skills to use in a way that makes the world a better place.  Success looks like being a strong role model for my two amazing daughters, Katie (21) and Molly (24).  Success looks doing something that I love and calling it a job.

Success looks like reclaiming my personal power and living to my fullest potential.  Success looks like being involved in healthy relationships and leaving the toxic ones behind.  Success is finding balance (finally) and taking time to relax and think and create and be grateful.  Success is living with intention, and opening myself up to all possiblities.

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And, like my success in high school, then later in my life, success still means making an audacious goal and then finding a way to achieve it.

This is where I am at this phase of my life.  I feel blessed and grateful and, yes, successful.

 

So while my Charger class of 1976 will be gathering in Santa Barbara/Goleta, CA, I will be missing them, but doing exactly what I love.  But I still say:  GO CHARGERS!

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If you would like to support my efforts with a tax deductible donation you may do so here:  http://bit.ly/MMRF_Alicia

 

 

The Kili Adventure – All at once.  Impossible to capture but here goes

The Kili Adventure – All at once. Impossible to capture but here goes

Anne Riskin, the wife of Jeff Riskin, who lost his battle with myeloma several years ago, posted this on my Facebook page about my upcoming trip:  “I hope everything goes exactly as planned!”  Well, one thing I learned quickly on this trip was not to have too many rigid plans and to go with he flow.

Contrary to our plan –  to post regularly here, to post on Facebook and send out tweets daily.. – well, we learned quickly that THAT  was just not going to happen.  Even when we were in a hotel on the first day (a rest day) in Moshi, electricity was sporadic to to a nationwide shortage, and wi-fi was  illusive.  So I decided not to stress about that at all and to just enjoy the journey.

So I will share with you about this trip, about how we bonded and helped each other up that mountain, how respect and friendship grew and how our new friends, the mountain guides and porters at Real Life/Embark, helped us reach our dream.

Moshi, Tanzania – rest day

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After our long trip to Africa, we arrived in Moshi for a day of acclimation and rest. Our group of 18 included 4 myeloma patients, a myeloma doctor, a representative from Takeda Oncoloy, (the company that developed 2 of the great myeloma drugs) and the director of patient advocacy from CURE Magazine.  I should interject here that these two companies  were our sponsors and that Takeda paid for the travel expenses of the group as well as the amazing video and photographers who documented the trip (Thank you, Takeda!!).  Also with us were the wife of one of the patients, the twin daughters of a patient, and the daughter of a woman who had lost her battle with myeloma two years ago. Jamie Slater, who is friends with one of the patient climbers, Stan Wagner, and who came to the MMRF with the idea of climbing Kili lead the team and brought along two supportive friends who joined the effort. Finally, we were joined by Jim, of Embark Adventures and our two amazing documentarians, John and Ben, who took icredible photographs and video (including some using a drone) to tell our story.  They had to be so fit to work so hard and climb alongside and often in front of us!

Day 1 on Kilimanjaro – to Londorosi Gate (7382  ft) to “Big Tree” (9172 ft)

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Our Kilimanjaro route was the longest, and in some ways hardest,  route – the Lemosho Route.  The idea is to take the slowest, longest path up the mountain to allow your body to acclimatize to the altitude.  The climb would be hard for any of us, but our biggest enemy would be altitude.  After a 2 1/2 hour drive from Moshi, we arrived at the gate where we registered, got our bags weighed and meet up with our support crew, led by Freddie, of Real Life.  So our band of 18 was supported by 82 people- porters, who carried heavy bags and supplies, often on their heads and walked much faster than we did, cooks, camp/tent staff, etc , and our mountain guides, who we would learn the full appreciation for later in the trip.  We were a team of 100… Working together to achieve our goal.

To our surprise the 3 1/2 hour first day hike began as it would continue – very steep and often muddy.  When we arrived at “Big Tree” camp we were greeted by the Real life porters and staff who sang and danced to celebrate our arrival.

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Tents were set up already and we settled in before our first dinner on the mountain in our mess tent.  A medical check in was conducted before we went to bed (as it would be every morning and night):  pulse, oxygen level, bodily function report, and  how-are-you-feeling-on-a-scale-of-1-10.  We went to bed early, as would be our custom   8:00 or 8:30 was late for us!

Day 2 – “Big Tree” (9172 ft) to Shira 1 (11,451 ft)

Everyday we awoke at 6:00 AM , greeted by our mountain guide asking us if we would like coffee or tea and providing a warm bowl of water and soap to wash up.  Our first and second days were in Rain Forest, and yes… it did rain!    We often were enveloped in clouds – or rather were camping IN the clouds.  It was pretty and soothing, but we wanted to see the mountain..  After breakfast of fruit and porridge, we headed out for our first long day – a 7 hour hike.  It was nice to walk with different teammates along the way and to get to know these amazing, wonderful people who were aligned in spirit and mission.   I learned a lot at what is like to be a multiple myeloma patient, from the patients, the doctor and the caregivers.

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Much of the terrain on this day was over large rocks, akin to taking two steps at a time in the stairwell.  I was so glad I had taken to training on the 12 flights of stairs in my apartment building as part of my preparation for Kili!  After a good meal of soup, followed by rice and chicken we were off to bed – by 7:45!  We would come to learn that it was all about EAT-CLIMB-REST/SLEEP.  That is how you climb this mountain.

Day 3 – Shira 1 (11,451 ft) to Shira 2 Camp ( 12,830 ft)

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I slept well – almost nine hours, so grateful for the cozy and warm “zero degree” sleeping bags and inflatable sleeping pads provided by Takeda Oncology.  I am a newbie to camping, (I think I more than doubled the # of nights I have ever slept in a sleeping bag on this trip!),  so out  of my comfort zone.  I was happy to sleep so well.   Today’s hike in the “heather” ecosystem was supposed to be relatively easy, but our 5 hour hike seemed to go on forever as we hiked through drenching rain.  I was so glad I had waterproofed my shoes (with waterproofing spray) and that I had the awesome Arc’terek jacket and a rain poncho.  The rocks were slippery and muddy but we made our way by simply focusing on the feet belonging to the person in front of us, step by step.  As I reached 12,000 feet, I could feel it was harder to breathe, but not a problem.  We were once again greeted by our porters and guides with the “Kilimanjaro Song” which I now understood got a little longer at each camp as a verse for each milestone/campsite is added as we go up the mountain.  We also began to recognize more Swahili words in the song, including “Hakuna Matata” (No Worries)

Day 4 –  Shira 2 (12,832 ft) to Lava Tower (15,259 ft) to Baranco Camp (13,065)

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This was our toughest day so far.  It was hard to believe we were only at day 4.  We were above the tree line and climbed to Lava Tower where every single person on the team reached their personal highest elevation ever.  We worked together as a team to make it up to over 15,000 feet and all felt triumphant that we had accomplished this milestone together.   Despite drenching rain, our spirits were bouyed and we all were certain that we would summit together in just a few days.  The hike back down to 13,000 feet where we would camp was hard.  Rain and mud made walking down the rocks treacherous.  We were humbled by a man we met with a prosthetic “runners leg” who seemed to be doing better than we were – even with his metal appendage .   He told the story of how he and his wife were in a motorcycle accident and they each lost a leg.  She did not come on the trek or have any desire to climb Kili.   He was climbing with his son.  I had run out of water and by the time I got to camp felt nauseous.  A nap an fluids were helpful, but a full nights sleep restored me to full health.  This trip is exciting but there is a cloud of ominous anticipation.   I am reminded: “one day/one step at a time”.

Day 5 – Baranco  Camp (13,365 ft) to Karanga (13,315 ft)

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This was another day of going up and then  coming down to sleep lower – all the while getting closer to our goal. We were excited that the clouds had lifted ( or rather, we were above them) and we could see Mount Kilimanjaro – our finish line.  This was both exhilarating and frightening.   This day freaked out several on our fellow hikers, but was my favorite.  This was the day we scaled and scrambled up the 350 foot Baranco Wall, what seemed to be an almost vertical face

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Those skills I honed as a mother of “tweens” at the indoor rock climbing club in Stamford, CT came back to me quickly and my heart was smiling, thinking of my daughters as I faced day 5.  It was not an easy day by any means, and I went on to bed feeling ill (again).  I had blown up my sleeping pad with my mouth as opposed to the hand pump (because it is faster, and I want d to lay down quickly).    I think giving away oxygen in these circumstances is a bad idea. (yeah, note to file:  Don’t do that!)

Day 6 – Karanga Camp(13,313 ft) to Barafu Camp ( 15,222 ft)

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Today was to be a short day, though the hike felt like it was straight up!  We started a bit early it and finished by 12:45   After lunch we were instructed to prepare foe the summit climb – that is get everything we needed organized and in our packs.   Then I took a short nap.   We ate (again! – gosh we had all lost our appetites days ago!) and then went to bed at 6:30 PM, knowing we would wake at 10:00 PM, have a snack and head out to summit at 11:00 PM

Night 6/Day 7 – Barafu Camp  (15,222 ft) to Uruhu Summit (19,341 ft) back to Barafu

I felt prepared for the cold night and day ahead,  ready for what I likened to the super cold ski days I had experienced in Vermont.  I pulled out some new stuff I had yet to wear on the trip. I wore long underwear, and fleece pants covered by rain/wind pants below.    On top I wore a smart wool base layer, a long sleeve cold weather running shirt and my super thick, furry North Face fleece. On top of THAT, I wore the orange MMRF Arc’terik jacket.  This was supplemented by a new thick wool hat, glove liners and warm ski mittens.  I was grateful that my shoes and socks had done such a great job of staying dry and warm.    I was good to go.

We all left together, each of us with a mountain guide assigned to help us.  As we took those first big steps up the rocky craig that started our final trek up, I felt a little panicked (for the first time of the trip).  It was dark except for our headlamps and the light of the full moon.  We walked up and up and up the steep grade, only focused on our individual goal to get up that big hill – no matter what.  The trudging became meditative – the only thing to focus on was the steps of the mountain guide in front of you   If you could follow him, you’d be OK.  That was the mantra- just keep following the only thing you see:  those blessed feet in front of you.  Quite often those feet would be joined by a hand.  Indeed I am certain that for at least an hour my guide, Rinatus, held my hand and led me up the steep spots of the incline and assured me with his strong arm and hand that I could do this.  Around 4 hours in, I turned on some music – soft, slow, quiet music (mostly Mark Knophler and Nick Hexum Quintet).  I needed to disassociate, something I knew well from marathon running.

At 5 or 6 hours in I hit the wall.  Why didn’t I bring any sports beans or chock  blocks on this trip?  As an endurance athlete, I knew to do this, but forgot. The trail mix and other snacks I brought sounded aweful and did not provide the eletrolites my body needed .   We were aware of each other on the summit trek, but only had enough energy to get ourselves up to the top.  Thank goodness for Freddie, Augustine, Renatus and all of the guides.  We knew the others were being taken care of and could focus on our own efforts .

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As we trudged on in our “death march” we stopped more and more often to catch our breath, regulate our heart rate and rest our legs.  We often saw our colleagues and did a quick check in making mental notes of who was still with us.  I had to keep reminding myself to look up at the gorgeous sky – full moon, Southern Cross, and an upside-down Big Dipper.  I was mindful of taking that in and memorizing the stars cape.

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By sunrise at around 6:15 AM we were in a trance-like state.  I remember feeling like I was walking like a drunk.  Jim, from Embark, mentioned to me that he was worried about some members in our party .  I thought for sure he meant me, so I ignored him and trudged on, afraid that he would recommend that I discontinute my efforts up the mountain.  My guide presented a MARS bar, which gave me a lift and a new kick of energy.  He offered to carry my backpack, but I did not want to loose my Camelback – I came to rely on drinks from it often, even as the water froze in the mouthpiece rendering it useless.

By this time there were rumors that a few had to turn back and be escorted down the mountain, and this proved to be true.  I was sad for my colleagues, knowing how disappointing their inability to summit would be. I pushed up that mountain despite pain, cold and near dilerium by the incredible desire to stand at the summit next the the Uruhu sign and hold the MMRF banner that contained the hundreds of myeloma patient names.

Around 8:00 AM I was surprised to see Ryan, Julie, Jana and MM patient Bobby greet me.  God Bless them, they were waiting for me so that we could summit together!  Within 15 minutes we had reached the top, Bobby first  (!!) and the rest of us close behind!

We had done it!

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We took in the beauty of the place: the glorious glacier, the view from the top and put our eyes on the prize – the Uruhu Congratulations sign.  We took individual photos as we awaited the arrival of the other team members.  Finally I pulled out the banner and we got the “money shot” :  The summit photo with the banner of patient names   We were all thrilled and exuberant.  We thought of the myeloma loved ones in our lives, and cried a few tears, filled with so many emotions.  We fist pumped each other, honoring the grit and determination that got us all the way up to 19,341 feet and that bonded us together in this effort.

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We could not stay long at the top. It was so cold (zero degrees with winds of 35-45 mph) and the air was thin.   We had to head back town to the camp we had left 9 hours earlier .

I was exhausted.   It was as if I had spend every ounce of energy I had getting up that mountain and I had nothing left to descend .  I was slower than Jana and Julie who were walking down with me.  Eventually Rematus, my guide, told me to hold his arm and he “skiied” me down the maintain on a bed of deep lava dust.  My quads ached as I braced myself while being “ragdolled” (to use Julie’s term) down the mountain for 2 hours.  I would have stopped and slept on a cold rock (and died) if I could   Down, for me, was harder than up.  Back at camp we were greeted with yips and whoo hoos of glory – and mango juice.  First thing I did?  I threw up! Whoo Hoo!

We all took a 45 minute nap and ate and  then the hardest thing :  we had to hike down another 3-4 hours.  To be honest there are memory blocks of both the summit and the aftermath.  With the air so thin and our bodies so exhausted, we were a little out of our minds up there.  But we were victorious and so happy to have reached out goal and taken on (and conquered) the hardest thing any of us had ever done.   There is such satisfaction in that!

Day 8 – We continued down the”hill”.

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Imagine taking 1 1/2 days to climb down what it took you 6 1/2 days to climb UP .  Yeah.. Quite a descent.  I was a goner   My legs were so sore and tired.  At one point I relieved myself in the rainforest brush and was literally unable to stand up from my “girl” position   I literally had to crawl to a tree to shimmy up and stand up   (I laughed at myself for sure)   “Saint Augustine” (pictured here)  is responsible for getting me down the last 6-7 hours on the final day.  He held my arm and assisted me as if I were an old woman. I was the last one down, but we did it!

I When I arrived the team was enjoying African beer and lunch.  I was so happy to be off the mountain, victory under my belt.

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We closed the excursion with a ceremony. First, of course there was signing and dancing.  We all joined in. Next, I wanted to address the porters and guides  It was important to me that all of the 82 of the staff people understand the enormity of what they helped us achieve.  I spoke and Freddy Chikima, who heads up the Real Life team, translated into Swahili, so that even the porters, who often did not speak English, could hear from each of us: who we are, why we climbed, and how important they were to our journey.  It was really moving.  This was followed by a tipping presentation and lots of hugs and tears.

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The Tanzinan people we encountered were so amazing and wonderful.  We are so indebted to them.  This photo symbolizes the strength, kindness, love and humility that Real Life shared with us so richly.

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Jambo kaka.  Asante Sana Sana

(Hello, my brother. Thank you so, so much!)

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This is the banner that we displayed at the top of Kilimanjaro.  This is this what got us up the highest freestanding mountain in the world.  Honor and love of those we know with multiple myeloma.  Powerful, indeed.

We are Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geeking Out about Kili – Itinerary & Factoids

 

I thought I would run through the trip with you since so many of you have asked about the details of our KILIMANJARO EXPEDITION.  This will give you an overview of… , well,  everything!

First of all, for the record, this is an expedition.  We are able to call it an expedition because it involves long, arduous travel and the ascent of a mountain peak.  Secondly, this is a hike:  A long walk up the highest free standing mountain in the world. (Everest is over 29,000 ft., but part of a RANGE).   There is no special equipment, no ice climbing or technical skills necessary.  We will not need oxygen (in fact if we do, trip over for that person!)

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We are a team of 15 people, plus two videographers.  Among us there are  four myeloma patients, one myeloma doctor, and others who are taking on this amazing feat to support myeloma loved ones who are fighting the disease, or to honor a patient who as lost her battle.  Also included on the team is a representative from Takeda Oncology, and a representative of CURE Magazine, and me, representing the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, (MMRF).   A special THANK YOU to Takeda Oncology and Cure Magazine, our two sponsors who are so generously  underwriting the trip and the video that we are producing while on the climb.  We are also indebted to Embark Adventures, the Portland, OR based company who has organized this trip and who will guide us up the mountain.

Our Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma (MM4MM) team members are all leaving this Friday, 1/15,  from various parts of the country (California, Texas, Oregon, North Carolina, NYC, CT, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis) and flying through Amsterdam (except Ryan who is  flying through Turkey, I think)   We arrive in Arusha, Tanzania on Saturday night, 1/16,  around 8 PM and made the 2 hour drive to our hotel in Moshi, arriving there around 10:00 PM.

Sunday is a rest day, when  we will get acclimated to our new surroundings and time zone.  The Embark staff will inspect our belongings to make sure we are bringing the right things – and not overloaded.

Monday, we will drive to the Londorossi Gate,  where we will go through the permitting and check in procedures, including weighing of our gear, and meet up with our 80 (YES 80!) porters, who will help us up the mountain.  These porters will carry our 35 lb. duffle bags, the tents, water, food, video gear, emergency equipment, (even a toilet!)  and everything we need for the trip.  Many of the  porters walk ahead and set up lunch, and later camp for the night.  We will be carrying just a day pack (the size of a school back pack) with everything we need for the day (water, layers, rain gear, snacks..)

We are taking the Lomosho Route up the mountain.

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This route is the slowest, longest and least crowded way up to Uhuru Peak.   We will take 6 days to climb up and 1 1/2 days to climb down.  There are faster routes – including the Mangaru, or “Coca Cola Route” and the Machame Route , dubbed the “Whiskey Route”- but these are crowded, and worse: shorter and steeper.  You do not want to go up the mountain fast, because your body must acclimatize to the altitude.  Indeed, the biggest  factor in successfully reaching the summit at Uhuru Peak (19,341 ft elevation) is going slowly so your body (and blood) can get used to less oxygen.  Most of us are bringing Diamox, an altitude sickness medication, that will increase our chances of reaching the summit.

“Pole.  Pole” (pronounced “Pole-a”), which means “slow, slow” in Swahili, the language spoken by the people of Tanzania, is the order of the day and our ticket to a successful climb.

This chart outlines our day-by-day itinerary and elevation progress.

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Our trip is “only” 43 miles.  We will be hiking 4-7 hours a day on most days.  The chart above shows the daily elevation and distance.

We will hike through 5 different ecosystems, with temperatures ranging from 90 degrees at the base to 9 degrees at the summit (with wind chill).

Here are the five ecosystems with notes:

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The weather: This chart is pretty interesting…

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It shows that the freezing line is approximately 16,000 ft.  It shows that the high and low temperature above 16,000 feet ranges from 21 – 23 degrees with the low feeling more like 9 degrees (with wind chill). Yikes.  This is when those layers will come into play!

More Yikes: Lots of snow forecast.  For example, Next Friday they expect 15 inches in the AM, 8 inches  midday and 44 inches the PM.    (Better waterproof the boots!)   Other fun facts here to geek out about, but I’ll leave that up to you..

On Sunday, 1/24, just after midnight, we will wake up and prepare to hike to the summit – some 6-7 hours away.  With headlamps, and guided by our Tanzanian guides, we will hike up the toughest part of the climb.  Bonus:  There will be a full moon that night!

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The summit is timed so that we reach it close to sunrise.  After a celebration there with photos – including  a special photo  of the team holding the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma banner which includes 200+ names of myeloma loved ones and others fighting cancer – we will hike down another 4-5 hours to our base camp for the night.  That will be a L-O-N-G day -(12-14 hours of strenuous hiking)  with a lot of emotion, no doubt!  The following day, we will reach the bottom of the mountain.  (You will see from the map at the top of this document that we come down the face of the mountain, a much faster route than the one we came up).

Monday night, 1/25,  will be our team’s celebration dinner (preceded by a much needed shower!).  Some of our team mates will leave on Tuesday,  1/26 but 8 of the 15 of us will stay for a rest day before embarking on a 3 day Safari from Wednesday – Friday night.

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Those who stay for the safari  will see breathtaking views and concentrated areas of game and wildlife of the Masaai Steppe at Tarangire National Park.  Later we will see the wonders of Lake Manyara and its famed tree-climbing lions.  Finally we will visit the Ngorongoro crater and see the abundance of animals that call it home.

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Speaking of home, we will fly back right after the safari on Friday night, arriving back home on Saturday sometime, depending on the final destination.

So there you have it.  The details of the trip so you can understand what we are doing and where we are going.  Future blogs will be more about the team and the experience.  Just wanted to get the ground work done!

Stay tuned for the adventure!  T-Minus 5 Days!

http://bit.ly/goAlicia

 

 

 

 

Don’t Make a New Year’s Resolution.  Make an INTENTION!

Don’t Make a New Year’s Resolution. Make an INTENTION!

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Those feel like promises you make to yourself that are often broken by the time February roles around.

Instead, I set INTENTIONS. And I don’t just do it on January 1.

To me there is a subtle but important difference. When you set an intention, you envision something and then turn your energy and thoughts – conscious or unconscious – to support that thought until it becomes manifest.

I have done that on many occasions. It almost feels like magic. But it is real. It works!

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(Even finding this rock, on the top of a  beautiful bluff on a special hike with a special friend on a speical day… nestled along side a labyrinth … that itself was magic!)

I remember setting an intention that the executives who decide such things at the Empire State Building would turn the lights on the building “MMRF Orange” to honor the MMRF the first year we were the Official Charity for the Empire State Building Run-Up. No easy feat. But they did.

(I keep this photo at my desk to remind me of the power of intention).

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When I learned that Matt Damon’s father had made it public that he was battling multiple myeloma, I set an intension to meet Matt and his father. And it did not take long before I did. Today, Matt is the face of our MMRF corporate video:

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And in 2015, I set an intention to find a new, cool, powerful way to engage MMRF supporters to take on an incredible endurance activity to raise funds for myeloma research and BAM:  Enter Jamie Slater, friend of myeloma patient Stan Wagner (pictured below).  She called me with a great idea and a lot of passion:   “Could put together a team to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?!!”

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Before you know it, our team had grown to 15 people – all of whom are connected to multiple myeloma, and all of whom committed to raise a minimum of $10,000 each. And then more great things happened: Through Jamie we met Marty Murphy, of Cure Magazine , who helped us partner with Takeda Oncology.  The result was that the  entire trip as is being underwritten by Takeda. AND Cure hired a video crew to join us on the trek, document the trip, and share this story of hope with the world.  We’ve raised just short of $200,000 (exceeding our $150,000 goal).  So many patients will be helped.  So many will be inspired!

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On the personal side, I have manifested some pretty cool experiences – down to the detail of exactly how I imagined them to be. It’s personal, so I will keep that private, but I assure you: It’s magic all right.

Those of you who know me know that my favorite saying is

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“Thoughts become things. So make them good ones!” (Credit Mike Dooley). It is so true. Clear your mind of clutter and negative thoughts. Kick out the “Itty Bitty Shitty Committee” that sometimes takes residence in your head with negative chatter that repeats the same thoughts over and over again. Go for a run, or a walk, or a hike. Clear your head.  Meditate. Make room for the good stuff to come in. Listen, See. Feel.  Set your intention and let the magic to grow.

Wishing you a magical 2016!

To support my Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro, visit: http://bit.ly/goAlicia   Not one penny from your donation goes to pay for the trip.  100% goes to the MMRF to fund critical research.  Thanks to Takeda Oncology and Cure Magazine!

 

Thoughts on Fear. And Moving Mountains. And Cancer

 

I am obsessed with this climb of Kilimanjaro. Partially because it is something I have dreamed of doing (in the back of my mind) since I was in my 20’s. Partially because in my daily work.  It is part of my job to manage the logistics and fundraising for the trip.  I also am working with our great partners, Takeda  Oncology and CURE Magazine to launch Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma as a new program.  This is the pilot. And partially because the team members are commutating with each other and talking about details and preparation, and the like – on a daily basis..Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 7.01.27 AM

As the January 15 departure date nears, I am getting anxious. Actually, down right fearful. And if you know me, that’s not normal. My favorite saying is “Thoughts become things. Make them good ones”. So feeling fear is not my thing.

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 11.38.57 PM

So here goes:

I have fears about how my body will react to the trek: How will I physically acclimate to high altitude? What will happen if I get sick? Can I get through the grueling 8-day climb physically? Am I in good enough shape? Is my body ready to take me up the tallest free standing mountain in the world?

I have fears about the discomfort or pain: How cold will it be those last two days? This isn’t like skiing in, say, Vermont. THERE, if it gets super cold,  you do one run and suffer through it and then you can go inside and have hot cocoa. On Kili, there is no “inside”. Am I tough enough? Also, how hard is it to sleep on the cold, hard rocky surface that I imagine will be my new boxspring?  How will I deal with that discomfort? And how will my muscles and hip flexors feel after hiking for so many days in a row? How will I deal with the hurt?

And then there is the big one: fear of the unknown. I’m literally going into new territory with this climb. What will it be like? How will I handle it? Will there be a snowstorm? Will the days be super hard? What is it like up there? How will it be to hike, beginning at midnight,  the last “up” day to begin our summit on a night with no moon (I’ve looked it up)? Can I do it? Will I power through? Or fall apart?

And then I realize what an obvious metaphor this all is.

  • How will my body react?
  • How will I respond to discomfort and pain?
  • Do I have the courage to face the unknown?

Of course these are all things that cancer patients face when they learn that they have cancer and when they anticipate treatment. And the myeloma patients I know appear to take on cancer with courage and positivity. So much so that I can’t be afraid at all. I have to follow their lead. Bring it on!

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 11.46.15 PM

Bob Dickey, Jeff Goad, Chuck Wakefield, and Stan Wagner… You guys inspire me! .Jamie, Mark, Jeff, Dr. Berryman, Julie, Jana, Colleen, Ramona,  Ryan, Marty:   Let’s do this!

Please consider supporting my efforts for the MMRF here:  www.bit.ly/GoAlicia

 

 

“If your dreams don’t scare you… They are too small.”

“If your dreams don’t scare you… They are too small.”

 

I am obsessed with this climb of Kilimanjaro. Partially because it is something I have dreamed of doing (in the back of my mind) since I was in my 20’s. Partially because in my daily work, it’s part of my job to manage the trip and the launch Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma as a new program, and this is the pilot. And partially because the team members are commutating with each other and talking about details and preparation, and the like – on a daily basis..Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 7.01.27 AM

As the January 15 departure date nears, I am getting anxious. Actually, down right fearful. And if you know me, that’s not normal. My favorite saying is “Thoughts become things. Make them good ones”. So feeling fear is not my thing.

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 11.38.57 PM

So here goes:

I have fears about how my body will react to the trek: How will I physically acclimate to high altitude? What will happen if I get sick? Can I get through the grueling 8-day climb physically? Am I in good enough shape? Is my body ready to take me up the tallest free standing mountain in the world?

I have fears about the discomfort or pain: How cold will it be those last two days? This isn’t like skiing in, say, Vermont. THERE, if it gets super cold,  you do one run and suffer through it and then you can go inside and have hot cocoa. On Kili, there is no “inside”. Am I tough enough? Also, how hard is it to sleep on the cold, hard rocky surface that I imagine will be my new boxspring?  How will I deal with that discomfort? And how will my muscles and hip flexors feel after hiking for so many days in a row? How will I deal with the hurt?

And then there is the big one: fear of the unknown. I’m literally going into new territory with this climb. What will it be like? How will I handle it? Will there be a snowstorm? Will the days be super hard? What is it like up there? How will it be to hike, beginning at midnight,  the last “up” day to begin our summit on a night with no moon (I’ve looked it up)? Can I do it? Will I power through? Or fall apart?

And then I realize what an obvious metaphor this all is.

  • How will my body react?
  • How will I respond to discomfort and pain?
  • Do I have the courage to face the unknown?

Of course these are all things that cancer patients face when they learn that they have cancer and when they anticipate treatment. And the myeloma patients I know appear to take on cancer with courage and positivity. So much so that I can’t be afraid at all. I have to follow their lead. Bring it on!

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 11.46.15 PM

Bob Dickey, Jeff Goad, Chuck Wakefield, and Stan Wagner… You guys inspire me! .Jamie, Mark, Jeff, Dr. Berryman, Julie, Jana, Colleen, Ramona,  Ryan, Marty:   Let’s do this!

Please consider supporting my efforts for the MMRF here:  http://bit.ly/goAlicia