Lori Higgins
Lori Higgins

Finding Strength on Mt. Kilimanjaro
Tuesday, February 14
With less than a month to go until my trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro, I must confess I have no idea what to expect. I am training to the best of my abilities and have all my gear prepared.  However, with elevation over 19,000 feet, I’ve been told the biggest factor is acclimatization and how my body reacts to the altitude. Sometimes when I’m putting in my miles I wonder, what was I thinking attempting to do this? What if I get sick and have to turn around? What if I injure myself? There are so many unknowns, but then I realize this is the true lesson in life. We never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. If you would have asked me three years ago before my husband’s multiple myeloma diagnosis, how I would picture myself raising our kids without him, I would’ve said it won’t happen. You would have to take me with him. In fact, I did actually say that on more than one occasion. 
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go our way, and this is the lesson I am trying to teach my kids.  At 44, I have come to realize that life is more about resilience and coping skills than it is about planning. I am quite sure that Mt. Kilimanjaro is going to test me both physically and mentally, but so does my daily life. Tom was an incredibly loving and very hands-on father and husband.  Despite a heavy work and travel schedule, he also took care of so many tasks in our home.  Taking on all of these duties by myself has been a huge adjustment for both me and our kids. The vast hole he left behind is simply immeasurable. 
I will likely need to tap into the same skills I’ve acquired since navigating these new challenges during the climb. I’m sure I’ll get tired, cold and uncomfortable in my tent (I’m not a camper) and start to complain to myself. I’ll probably get frustrated and want to quit. But I’ll hopefully find a way back to my center and also seek and accept help from others. I’ll tap into energy and strength that seems to come out of nowhere just when I need it. I’ll focus my thoughts on my husband, who went through so much discomfort, anguish and sacrifice, all to stay here and spend whatever precious time with us that the treatment would get him. I’ll also think about the multiple myeloma patients currently battling this disease, including some of my teammates. I have so much gratitude to be a part of this team, and also for my own health, which allows me to attempt to hike this mountain and also enables me to conjure up the strength to move forward in my life despite the loss of my husband. 
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