Brian Smith

Name: Brian Smith
Age: 35
Hometown: Bremerton, WA

I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in early 2016 at the age of 33. Like a lot of people, It all started with some severe neck and back pain that I had been dealing with. After finally relenting and going to get an x-ray, we found out that my C7 was crushed and part of the bone was touching my spinal cord. I had essentially been walking around for months with the potential to be paralyzed at any moment. We got confirmation of the disease after surgery to repair my neck. The good news kept coming, as my doctors at MD Anderson informed me that not only was it rare for someone as young as me to get this disease, but I also had a high risk disease with my 17p deletion. I went through my initial phase of treatment and responded well and then, in October 2016, went in for my stem cell transplant.
 
In everything surrounding this disease, I have tried to be as aggressive as possible and I have refused to let this disease define me. I have worked hard to live my life as normally as I can and continue to do the things that I love to do.

For example, after my transplant, I had a new job waiting for me in Seattle (we wanted to move back to the west coast after living a year in Texas) and I pushed myself to get out of the hospital in 12 days and back to work 30 days after my transplant. Part of that involved packing up a moving truck with family and driving out to Seattle. The feeling of exhaustion was something new to me and it was pretty difficult to deal with at first. But I pushed myself through it and after a day of just sleeping it off, I felt 100 percent better than before I had started loading up the truck. I liken it to pushing through a hangover and feeling so much better than if you would have just laid on the couch and recovered from that excessive night of drinking. 

I continue to work every day, renovate our house, and plan hunting, fishing and camping trips for the family. I don’t ever want people to see a cancer patient when they look at me. I want them to see someone thriving and living a full life, who also just happens to have cancer.

I’ve always been one to push boundaries and try to challenge myself and this trek is just one more challenge that I want to meet. It also has the bonus of being a great fundraising vehicle for research into a cure. 
 
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