Gary Rudman
Gary Rudman

Reflection on Mount Bierstadt
Wednesday, August 03
Priceless moments are defined by character-building events. Saturday, July 9, 2016 was one such day that will forever be ingrained in my mind. On Saturday, our 2017 Mount Kilimanjaro team successfully climbed Mount Bierstadt with an emotional celebration at the summit.
 
The past year has simply been a whirlwind. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in April 2015 and commenced my stem cell transplant process at MD Anderson Cancer Center in July 2015. Approaching a year since my transplant (August 4, 2015), I knew the reflections of last year’s events on a day-to-day basis would stir my mind. I wondered how I would react with each passing day and reminders from Facebook on the events from one year ago. The stories and postings brought me back to last year for a short time. Do I focus on the past or move forward in the present?
 
The present is my life. The future describes my goals. I have progressed forward at warp speed to regain my health and fitness level. I have conquered my multiple myeloma with complete remission “for now,” since there is no cure at the present time. My goals are simple: to help spread multiple myeloma awareness as far as the eye can see, to raise funds for research to find a cure, to show patients that they are not defined by cancer and can achieve anything to set forth to conquer and to help patients in any other way, shape or form.
 
During the Mount Bierstadt trek, I got to know our team on a personal level. Sixteen team members. Six multiple myeloma patients with intense stories of their own. Some lost loved ones to multiple myeloma. Some are caregivers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters or friends with loved ones battling multiple myeloma each day. The commonality among all team members is our quest to show the world that we can accomplish what we set forth to achieve.
 
Before the climb, the team met for the first time. Finally, we were able to put faces to names. We were able to exchange personal stories. We became one: The 2017 Mount Kilimanjaro team. Sunday morning during breakfast, we talked, hugged, shared more stories and said our goodbyes. It is truly amazing how 16 individuals developed into one team.
 
Were there ever doubts of not achieving our goals? No. As a team, we ensured each member successfully summited and returned home. It’s not about one individual, it’s about one team. Our Mount Kilimanjaro trek is about commitment and achieving a goal. Emotions ran high. Tears flowed. We did it.
 
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