Lisa Valaika
Lisa Valaika

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Monday, March 06
It’s hard to believe that this time last week we were all in Africa! Wow! It almost doesn’t seem real. But it was.
What a trip! I couldn’t have known back in December 2015 when I submitted my application to participate in the climb what an adventure I would have. The trip was more than I expected. It was an AWESOME experience and not one I will soon forget. The climb was only part of the adventure. The people, our team all have a special place in my heart and in my mind. Each one of us overcame obstacles to get there and overcame obstacles while we were there. The camaraderie only got stronger as the trip went on. We began this journey together and we ended it together: one team, one mountain, one summit.
Working for Takeda Oncology, one of the partners for the trip, gives me a sense of pride and gratitude. I am proud to work for a company that encourages their employees to think beyond their professional role and responsibilities to better understand the patient and caregiver journey and grateful for being given the opportunity to participate and share.
I had a short hike this morning with one of my fellow climbers. We’re already planning our next big adventure. Stay tuned!
Arriving in Africa
Monday, February 20
We’ve made it! It was a long day of travel for all of us. Many of us including myself were on a plane for just short of 20 hours. As soon as we landed, I was struck by how warm and humid it is here. We got into Kilimanjaro Airport just about 9 p.m. local time. We were greeted as soon as we made it through the loooong line getting our Visas by our guide, Freddie, and several members of his team who will be leading the way up the mountain. They loaded all our gear bags and we headed to our hotel for the night. With such a long day and much excitement many of us were not able to go to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning. We can see just the very top of the mountain from the third floor on our hotel. It looks really amazing, rising up above the clouds. It’s hard to believe that we will be there shortly.
We are beginning to get acclimated to our new environment. We are all spending the day together on our first day exploring the local village of Moshi. We enjoyed seeing all the street vendors with fresh local produce and artists selling all their creative drawings, bead work and much more. After visiting the town, we all get to spend some down time at the hotel and took the time to rearrange our packs one last time. Tonight we will have a team dinner together, have our gear checked and receive our final briefing for our journey.

Our trek kicks off tomorrow with a four-hour drive to the trail head. We begin our trek at the Londorossi Gate which is just about 7,800 feet elevation. We’ll end our four-hour hike for the day at about 9,000 feet elevation at Mt. Mkubawa camp (which means “Big Tree”).
Thank you again to all our supporters, family and friends. With your help and generosity, we have raised over $250,000 - 90% of which will go directly to much needed research and related programs.
See you at the summit! Asante.

Keep Your Friends Close and Kick Your Enemies to the Curb
Monday, February 06
Not even a year ago, I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to join the U,S. Market Access team for Takeda Oncology. Prior to that, as I sat waiting for my interview, I was immediately struck by the Cranes of Hope that greet you as you walk in the door of the Takeda U.S. corporate offices and the words displayed broadly in the foyer, “We aspire to cure cancer”.
Wow! That’s something I want to be a part of.
The Cranes of Hope, as I came to learn, are part of Japanese legend and represent the collective hope and wish for better health for everyone.
Within months of joining Takeda Oncology, I learned that I’d been selected to join the 2017 Mt. Kilimanjaro Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma trek. My teammates are people living with multiple myeloma along with friends and family of those living with multiple myeloma and remain my daily inspiration both professionally and personally. They routinely use phrases like “Time for tiger blood, beast mode and visualization” and “Never quit. Never stop”. They live their lives to the fullest and inspire others to do just the same.
We’ll see you at the summit!
5 Reasons Working in Oncology Becomes More Than a Career
Monday, January 16
1. The people I work with are passionate about what they do. This keeps the motivation high for all of us and encourages me to always try to bring my “A” game and “move the needle” to hopefully make a difference.

2.Creativity and innovation is encouraged and embraced, which allows for a very stimulating work environment.

3. Collaboration is the norm. While I enjoy the ability to work independently, I value the insight and input of my colleagues and teammates. Together, we can achieve more.

4. At Takeda, patients are at the center of everything we do. Patients motivate and inspire all of us. Patient stories, their lives, their hopes for better health and their dreams for a brighter future helps to define who we are and the work that we do.

5. Takeda is built around our shared values: integrity, fairness, honesty and perseverance. These were established at Takeda’s founding over 230 years ago and have continued to develop over time. We call these Takeda-ism. These are our core strengths and the spirit of Takeda.
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