Jennifer Davis

Age: 41
Hometown: Kalamazoo, MI
It all started with back pain. As a wife and mother of two children under the age of five, life had been relatively carefree. My health had been something to which I had never given a second thought. I had been an avid runner, a girl who loved the outdoors and thrived on experiencing new adventures with my husband and kids.
However, during the summer of 2013, I began experiencing lower back pain. It continued over the next several weeks, began to get worse and wouldn’t seem to go away. It then turned into a sharp, shooting pain that wrapped around my torso and went into my ribs. I went to see doctors, but x-rays came back clean. They thought it was nothing, maybe some sore muscles that I needed to ice. But after a few months, the pain became unbearable. I was given a hard plastic brace to wear, and still nothing was improving. The doctors thought I was overreacting, or just had a low threshold for pain. But in my heart, I knew it was something more.
That winter, on a cold December morning, I collapsed in my bedroom, unable to walk. I was immediately rushed to the hospital, and after an MRI and several blood tests later, it showed that I had suffered three spinal fractures that were ultimately caused by cancer.
CANCER…it is a jarring and terrifying word.
I was a 37-year-old woman who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable disease I had never heard of before. How could I become so sick so quickly, making me unable to do even the basic things that I had taken for granted up until now.
The months ahead were tough. I had back surgery, went through several rounds of chemo, had a stem-cell transplant, and took a whole slew of medication. It was a lot of hard work, but in the fall of 2014, I went into remission and my back started to get strong again. I returned to hiking and played catch with my son. I even ventured out into a cold snow storm that winter and shoveled the driveway. A neighbor came by and asked why I was shoveling when we have a snow blower. I said: because I CAN.
Why do I want to hike to the Base Camp of Mount Everest? Because after three years of uncertainty, I want to remind myself of how far I have come. Despite everything I have been through, I have persevered and with the support of family and friends. I have a lot to be thankful for.

When I was diagnosed, I told myself that I was not going to let cancer take hold of my life. I want other patients to know that if faced with unthinkable adversity, there is hope.  If you feel like you are being pushed to your very limit, keep the faith, be strong and fight back harder.
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