Nick and Krysta
Nick and Krysta

Post-Climb Reflections
Friday, March 10
The Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma organization is truly taking action and creating life-changing experiences while raising funds for groundbreaking research with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). As a Takeda employee, this trip was humbling in so many ways. Takeda is truly taking the opportunity to have the patients involved in every way possible.
Krysta and I were able to reflect a lot on our new family, hike and life as we returned home this past week. A recurring theme in all of our discussions is, “What can we do to make someone else be happy today?” as we were able to see the effortless selflessness by so many during our hike. The unlimited grit displayed by our teammates continues to inspire us each day as we move forward.
It is organizations like The MMRF, CURE® magazine and Takeda that are taking the steps towards a bright future in cancer therapy. The hike, as mentioned so many times, is only analogous of the challenge faced by cancer patients but, the summit or the cure is attainable as long as you have a team with the motivation, the inspiration and the support necessary to get there!
Attitude Over Altitude
Friday, February 24

Today started with beautiful morning at the Shira II Camp. The weather was clear and we had a gorgeous view of our final destination, the peak of Kilimanjaro. Having the peak in sight gave us all motivation for our day. We went through our normal morning routine and started on our longest day of hiking with the highest altitude this far. The hike started out like most of our other hikes, very smoothly and the weather was cooperating beautifully. We had one goal, to get to the top of the Lava Tower at 15,000 feet and descend down to Barranco Camp around 13,100 feet.

As we kept moving, Kili decided to test us with her toughest weather yet. Hail, rain, snow and wind all presented a challenge on our climb. Luckily the team was more than prepared with the right gear and mindset to conquer the trip.

The second test for the team was becoming acclimated with the elevation during this period of the hike. We ascended over 2,000 feet only to descend another 2,000 feet to camp. This truly tested the team’s high altitude capabilities along with all of the education from the guides and porters moving us along the mountain. The guides reminded us to move slow by saying "pole pole" very frequently along the trek. With this guidance we were able to successfully ascend and descend with ease. 

With these tests it was a reminder that we must have an open mind and to expect the unexpected. Although this team had only been in contact for a year we worked together seamlessly as if we had been training for a long time. Each and every teammate looks out for each other endlessly and it goes to show that we have become family. We all understand we have this mountain and many other personal mountains to climb. The challenges are only temporary. 

One team. One mountain. One summit.

10 Things I Want My Climbing Partner to Know
Tuesday, February 14
Dear Nick,
I am so excited to take on this incredible journey with you up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Not many people can say that they have climbed the tallest freestanding mountain in the world with their best friend never mind their fiancé. I’m lucky that you take both of those roles, and I am able to join you in this great life adventure for an amazing cause. I know that there are going to be obstacles that we may face, but here are ten things that I would want you to know as we prepare to hike:
  1. Keep your head up – literally and figuratively. There will be times where you want to look down and give up but remember to keep your eye on the goal and keep moving forward as the patients on our team do every day.
  2. You are strong inside and out. Your strength can move mountains! So radiate that strength because you will lift the spirits around you.
  3. Don't be afraid to lean on me if you need me. I know I may be smaller than you, but I am able to carry you if you need me to. I am your climbing partner, and I will always be there for you with whatever you need.
  4. Remember why we are here and who we are climbing for! Judy and Fred, this is for you!
  5. There may be some moments where you may feel defeated, but defeat only happens if you let it take ahold of you. You have me and an amazing group of teammates to lean on.
  6. Take it slow! I know you, and you love to push yourself and go quickly, but this is a journey that will require pace and patience.
  7. You have obtained all of the right skills and resources you need. Trust the process and you will have success!
  8. Most importantly, we are in this together. I am here for you. The team is here for you. You are never alone in this journey!
  9. WE CAN DO THIS! Go big or go home. Well, in this case, we will go big and then go home!
  10. “You can either go to bed satisfied with your efforts today or stressed with what you left for tomorrow. You can either work hard to take on the hill or never know what it is that people see at the top.” - Joe De Sena 
I love you dearly,
Dear Krysta,
I am so incredibly excited to have you as not only my climbing partner, but also my life partner. I want to share ten things with you as we prepare for the biggest adventure of our lives yet. As it is only the beginning of our adventures together, I want you to know that these things will hold true no matter where we are, who we are with, and what challenge is in front of us: 
  1. You’re an inspiration to others. Your energy and love for others is contagious and has allowed me to push through life’s challenges.
  2. You’re a leader among leaders. You surround yourself with individuals who are just as amazing as yourself and always find a way to lead them to a goal.
  3. Don’t ever doubt yourself. You can truly do anything you put your mind to (and more!)
  4. Breathe! Keep calm and climb on! #KCCO.
  5. Keep the jokes coming! I love how you find a way to make jokes at the toughest times.
  6. You’re a strong woman.
  7. Together, we can do anything. You alone can succeed, but imagine the things we can achieve if we combine our strengths.
  8. Go big and go home after!
  9. Just keep climbing, just keep climbing. You’re the pace master, I will follow.
  10. You truly are an amazing person. You have been told “you can’t do that,” “you’re not good enough,” and “you’re going to fail,” yet you continue to push through and find ways to succeed. Your determination and strength is obvious to those who admire you. Don’t let yourself forget just how awesome you are. You are my rock. You are my person.
Preparing for the Climb
Friday, February 03
This hike has presented a new and exciting challenge to me with the opportunity to climb the tallest freestanding mountain and having to create a training program to ensure a successful summit. Krysta and I try to stay as fit as possible by doing Spartan races and road races throughout the year, but were faced with a new level of fitness we would have to direct all of our attention towards. Endurance and leg strength became my main focus. I started to plan an escalation plan with the distance, time and amount I would be running and/or biking in the months leading up to Kilimanjaro. Having Krysta continuously challenge me to sign up for more races or go for longer runs has allowed my body to be challenged in ways that I can now only simulate in preparation for the hike.
Gear preparation and packing has been of great interest to me, actually. Ask Krysta, I am a complete list person and love to organize things! I thoroughly enjoy reading through the itinerary of the trip and planning for both the expected and unexpected to my best capability. The best part about testing out new gear is just that – you actually have to put yourself in as similar a position as possible to what you plan to use the gear for. I absolutely love the outdoors, and this gives me an excuse (not that I need one) to explore different environments and levels of activity.
I know that I’m ready for the challenge. I think that we have an amazing team that will reach the top of Kilimanjaro one way or the other. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking and surrounding yourself with people that support you. This team has been amazing and continues to inspire me to reach new heights both in my personal life and as a member of the team. I’m looking forward to escaping technology and conquering Kilimanjaro as a team. The escape from modern technology has always allowed me to center my thoughts and form a clearer path towards my goals.
I cannot wait for the moment we summit the mountain as a team. The team that has been assembled for the 2017 trek is nothing short of awesome. Each team member has their own incredible story but what has been the most interesting part is the growth we have already experienced as a team.
My training and story is not the same as anyone else on the team, but I believe that is what will allow us to succeed together. I think it parallels what you see in life – everyone has their own story, but together, we can be successful! Some of my team mates have used the stairwells at their workplace to train while others have conquered actual mountains. Since we are from all different locations with much different geographies, we are faced with training in our own individual environments. Embark (our climbing vendor) has been very helpful with giving us areas to focus on for our training (i.e. core and leg strength and endurance) which has allowed everyone to utilize what is available to prepare for the mountain.
As mentioned above, the entire team has trained so hard and I believe we are all prepared to conquer Kilimanjaro, but I can speak for myself by saying I know I don’t want to reach the summit without my team standing there with me. This team has become family, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure the success of the group!
How a Passion for Patients Brought Us Together
Thursday, December 15
We met at MCPHS University as students. Nick was a resident assistant at the time we met. It is a frequent joke that we met in the laundry room and talked over each other’s dirty laundry. From there, we both became involved in the orientation program as orientation leaders and instantly became friends through conversations surrounding both of our favorite things – steak, adventures and technology. These common interests formed the foundation of our relationship and continue today.

Both of us had chosen to focus our careers in healthcare, Nick as a pharmacist and Krysta as a dental hygienist. We both have put patients and others before ourselves as both of us find happiness in helping others. Altruism has allowed us to excel as healthcare professionals and drives us to find better ways in which we can help patients live better, healthier lives.

We were truly humbled when we found out we were on the 2017 Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma Mt. Kilimanjaro team. We have learned so much about the team members, and Mt. Kilimanjaro thus far that has only made us more excited to climb in February. Recently engaged, we will work together to conquer this mountain. Our main goal is to ensure the success of the team, and we will do what it takes to get everyone to the peak.

Inspired by a close friend, we ask each other, “What did you do today to change someone's life?” to continuously challenge ourselves to make every day great for us and those around us. Whether it be helping someone carry their groceries or pushing someone up a mountain, we aim to impact someone’s life every day. What is amazing is how much family, friends and patients impact our everyday lives. We met as students and would talk for hours about food, and now we have discovered ourselves through challenges and adventures that have pushed each other to the limits. Mt. Kilimanjaro is just the next obstacle to conquer with our team, as a team.
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