Jen Phlieger Ansier

'But we're not finished talking yet'
Friday, July 06
In the past, I have often avoided getting to know too many people with myeloma. Each patient deals with this disease differently and I found that I was not one for group meetings. People were often negative (I don’t blame them, it’s just not my outlook) and they made me feel sad. I was also afraid to get close to someone who may lose the battle to this beast. So, when I signed up to spend five days hiking in Iceland with a group whose only immediate connection was myeloma, I was a bit nervous. 

Thanks to Celgene, our group was able to do a practice hike together in North Carolina. It was a one-day, eight-hour long hike. This was a chance for us to meet and test our fitness levels. Some of us met at the airport and rode together to the to the hotel and slowly got to know each other. But the real bonding began the day of the hike. It had been raining for days in North Carolina and the forecast predicted yet another rainy day. We started the hike in our full rain gear and began our way up Shortoff Mountain. The views were completely shrouded by fog and we could barely see past the ledge at each lookout. As we made our way up single-file on the hiking path, often walking through streams of rainwater, we began to tell our stories to each other. We shared stories of loss, endurance, faith, family, but most of all, hope. 

As we descended the mountain the sun came out, the clouds parted for us and we saw the incredible views. It seemed fitting that the sun was shining on us, and with it, much of our anxiety and nervousness had dissipated. Our conversations continued through dinner and late into the night. With tears in our eyes, we parted the following morning. Our team member Erin perfectly summed it up “But we’re not finished talking yet.” And she’s right. We’re not.  
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