Patti Bivona

Pride and Awe at the Top of Mount Fuji
Friday, July 21
I can't believe it. After months of talking about it, thinking about it, and certainly training for it, I climbed Mount Fuji! I have to be honest — before heading out, I started to doubt myself. Was I strong enough? Had I trained enough? But I did it!  

Standing up there, watching the sunrise arm-in-arm with all of my teammates while listening to a beautiful trumpet solo was indescribable. I was so proud of everyone, but to be honest, I was in complete awe of what some of my teammates overcame to be standing there with us. There were physical challenges to be sure, but I think about the resilience of the people there. People who couldn't even vacuum a room several years ago were there. People who were told they may only live a couple of years. People who lost some of those closest in their lives. People who are currently helping those close to them. 

All of these people were standing with me. All are testaments to the strength we have inside of ourselves. And I think about the compassion of others there. People who work so hard for people like me, not only in their careers but there on the mountain. The executive and the doctor who carried packs for struggling teammates. The geneticist with a well-timed hug.  

With people like these, how can you not feel hopeful for the future? 

Don't Take "Someday" for Granted
Friday, June 30
It’s never what you want to hear on your routine checkup. Your doctor says, “One of these numbers doesn’t look right. I’m sure it’s nothing, but let’s recheck.” And she does. And then she tells you to see a hematologist. More tests, more assurances that it’s probably nothing, but then the dreaded, “You have a form of cancer.”
In comparison to other people who hear this, I am lucky. I have smoldering myeloma, which means I have the cancer cells in my bone marrow, but right now they are just sitting there. They are not (yet) interfering in my life. I feel fine, and I have none of the symptoms that affect those with active multiple myeloma. It’s been almost exactly five years, and I hope it stays this way for years to come. But there is no way to know.
This uncertainty has changed me. We always think that someday we’re going to do all those wonderful, amazing things about which we have dreamed for so long. Now, though, I am not sure I will be able to do them “someday.” Things can change rapidly. So I do them now. I don’t say no to experiences as there is a sense that I need to get it done. It helps me keep focused on how good my life is today rather than worrying about what it might be one day.
However, that doesn’t mean I can’t help to make that future better. Enter the MMRF and their wonderful mission to find cures. The strides they have made in recent years are truly amazing, giving people years on their lives, better quality of life, and hopes that a cure can one day be found. I want to be a part of that! In particular, I am very excited about one of their newer initiatives trying to see if they can prevent smoldering myeloma from becoming active.
I started working with the MMRF on fundraising doing a half marathon a couple of years ago. When I saw they were doing the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma trek to Mt. Fuji, I just knew I wanted to do it. It’s such a beautiful mountain and a different experience than most mountains. I live in Colorado, and we have a lot of mountains and hikes to try, so why go to Japan? Mt. Fuji is so iconic and instantly recognizable to most everyone. I look at it and feel a sense of ancient times and history. On the technical side, it’s a freestanding mountain (a volcano) that starts at 1 foot above sea level, rising to 12,389 feet. That’s huge! It’s a tough hike – very steep – and will take more than one day. I have never hiked at night, but part of our hike will be in the middle of the night so we will be there before the sun comes up. How amazing will that be – watching the sunrise at the top of the mountain with thousands of other hikers? It’s an experience I cannot wait to add to my life!
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