Karuppiah Kannan
Karuppiah Kannan

A Grand Opportunity for a Scientist: Meeting Patients in the Grand Canyon
When it comes to pharmaceuticals, scientists (who discover the drugs) and patients (who we hope to help) represent the extreme ends of the spectrum. The opportunity for both of these parties to meet is rare. In a way, we need each other so much, but our paths almost never cross.

Therefore, when the opportunity presented itself to quite literally walk the same path as multiple myeloma patients, I took it right away. I’m looking forward to interacting with the patients and caregivers, while we collectively take on the challenge of hiking through the grueling 4,300-foot decline and incline of the Grand Canyon.

I’ve done some endurance events like marathons and century bike rides, however, hiking is totally new to me. I was so naïve to hiking that my first question was if I can wear my running shoes. I’m totally new to this, but hey, I’m a scientist; Unknown challenges are a norm in my everyday work, so bring it on!

I did end up getting my hiking boots and went about the task of breaking them in. I’m wearing them every day now and trying to walk miles upon miles leading up to the event. I went hiking on a couple of small hills to kick-start my training for the decline and incline. The weather in Boston did not help me to train ideally, as the temperature is going to shift from 70° to 110° by the time we hit the canyon floor. The elevation and temperature are the two major challenges I might have to face with very little training.

Of course, the whole team is taking on a challenge. We will be hiking while we also fundraise for research, in support of finding a cure for cancer. We’ve all lost friends and family to cancer — I’ve specifically lost a close friend’s brother to multiple myeloma — therefore every step we take on the trail and every dollar we raise will be used towards finding a cure for cancer. Thinking about the suffering of patients themselves, the families touched by cancer and the hard task at hand of finding a cure will be my motivation during the descent.

- Karuppiah Kannan
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