Erica Harrison

Reflecting on Our Journey
Tuesday, August 21
My family has expanded. After our celebration dinner back in Reykjavík, I remember the realization hitting me so vividly… “I literally love these people!” I screamed it out loud to Erin. Every single one of them is so very special and will always hold a dear place in my heart, as I know I will in each of theirs. After spending that amount of time with a group of people with really no escape from each other (not sure there are any closer quarters in the universe than that mountain hut!), the fact that we were already planning our reunion on the day we headed home is a true testament to our forever bond that we share. I have no doubt that will always remain.

There were so many inspiring moments on this trek, it’s difficult to process them all. The moments we made it safely to the other side of the infamous (and dreaded for some) Kattarhryggir “Cat’s Spine,” as well as the lovely surprise of Heljarkambur “Hell’s Crest” in particular come to mind. The moment 19 of us walked into our mountain hut (only to be joined by an addition our guide Bryndis simply referred to as “The Warden”) is also one I will never forget – as if we were not already close enough! The joy and excitement of being reunited on arrival day, the exuberance and sense of accomplishment at the celebration dinner, the breathtaking scenery and ever-changing beauty of the landscapes, the comedic deliveries from my teammates, the raw emotions shared, I could go on for days. At some point during Day 3, I realized that for the majority of the trek I kept noticing that I had what I refer to as the “smiley hurts” – those little pains in your cheeks you get when you are smiling for too long. Usually these are brought on by photo ops (prom, weddings, etc), but this was simply a result of the pure joy I was experiencing every moment on this trek.

As I continue to recall more memories from this experience, I continue to be in awe of this team. Meeting our guides and camera crew on the first night, we humbly let them know that we were undoubtedly the best MMRF team ever. Over the next few days, we proved it. The camaraderie, the bond we share and the comfort level we have with each other is no doubt unrivaled, particularly for a group of people who have only known each other a few short months. Sometimes you just click with people, and somehow, we ALL just clicked with each other.

Life is short. Experiences like these are what it’s all about. Organizations like the MMRF and Celgene make these moments possible. Seeing my teammates petrified of heights conquer narrow cliffs with sheer drop-offs on both sides, sharing tears with typically pokerfaced teammates and the genuine interest we have taken in each other’s lives has been nothing short of inspiring.

What a journey it was… and it’s not over. We will continue to fight, we will continue to raise money and awareness, and we will continue to support each other and this community. I couldn’t be prouder of this group of people and the bond we share. The patients and family members of patients in this group have radically strengthened my drive to fight for them. I am honored and humbled to be part of their team. I also have a renewed sense of motivation and passion to persevere in memory of those we have lost. We owe it to them to carry on their legacy and continue to fight for a cure. I know they are looking down and are proud of us. And that makes me proud.

Reflecting back on this journey, I feel nostalgic, I feel grateful, I feel love, I feel thankful and I really feel proud. Proud to call this group of people family. Proud to have accomplished something unlike anything I’ve ever done. Proud to have raised over $130,000 to fight against cancer. Proud to be part of such stellar organizations like the MMRF and Celgene. Proud that my family, friends and colleagues have supported me in this cause.

To each of you… Alex, Barbara, Brian, Cesar, Emily, Erin, Gary, Jane, Jen, Marty, Mary, Rich, Tina and Tom, and of course Ben, Dana, Ben, John and Bryndis… THANK YOU. Thank you for the laughs, thank you for the tears, thank you for the hugs, thank you for the conversations, and thank you for love. Can’t wait to plan our reunion!
 
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