Nancy Dziedzic
Nancy Dziedzic

Realizing Teenage Dreams on Mount Kilimanjaro
Sunday, February 05
As a child, I was always interested in animals. My favorite TV show was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. My favorite episodes showed the Serengeti in Africa and all the wildlife there.  I have wanted to go there and see it for myself since I can remember.
Over the years, I worked with animals in many different capacities, considered a career as a veterinarian, volunteered for animal rescue and took any opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitat. As I got older, Africa was always in the back of my mind as a bucket list trip, but it seemed that there was always another trip or event that pushed that dream out. So, in my mid-40s, I decided that I would set a date and finally do it – that date was my 50th Birthday.  
I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma a month before my 49th birthday. I was crushed that I may not be able to fulfill that dream trip. I was hopeful that I would get better, but I wasn’t sure my immune system could handle a trip to Africa.  One of the first things I told my oncologist is that I needed to get better so I could do my trip to Africa. I think he was a little surprised at the request, but he immediately told me he would do whatever he could to make that happen. 
I started treatment immediately and the plan was to do four or five rounds of three types of chemo to get the multiple myeloma under control and then do a stem cell transplant. The recovery from the stem cell transplant could take a year. I realized that my dream of going to Africa for my 50th would be pushed out indefinitely until I recovered. It was a tough reality.
Thankfully, I responded well to treatment, did the stem cell transplant and by my 50th birthday, I was six months into my recovery.  I started looking at the immunization schedule and hoped, by my 51st birthday, I would at least be planning my trip. 
A few months later, I was following the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma team page as they prepared for their first trek up Mt Kilimanjaro. It was a mountain I had seen in many pictures of Africa and was in the same country that I had hoped to do my safari in, so I was intrigued and inspired by their trek. At that moment, I knew I should try to climb this mountain, too, and inspire others to follow their dreams. 
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