Terry White
Terry White

Thank You Donors
Friday, February 17
As the days gradually grow longer up here in the great North, the time has come for my journey to the southern part of Africa. Mt. Kilimanjaro's summit is calling my name – and the names of 14 other teammates that make up the 2017 Mt. Kilimanjaro Trek Team #MM4MM. We have all been training for the climb up to the 19,341-foot summit that will happen during our 8-day trek. 

We have all had a journey getting to this point. We all confronted fears and barriers in getting here. Being a member of the team is quite an honor and each one of us committed to raise $10,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). At the time, it seemed like a huge amount of money to raise.

When my two boys were young, they were both involved with youth activities that required many types of fundraising. We sold every kind of raffle ticket imaginable to raise money, mostly for travel expenses to other cities. Juneau has no roads leading in and out so we are inaccessible except by boat or plane. Travel to compete in other cities with our soccer, baseball and football teams was very expensive. Raising money just became the norm. People in Juneau are awesome about opening up their wallets to support our youth, and all it takes is a knock on the door. Boy Scout popcorn, car wash tickets, raffle tickets for soccer, raffle tickets for football, homerun cards for little league baseball – I've done them all. Oh, I can't forget the ever delicious Krispy Kreme doughnuts (400 dozen) that I air freighted from Seattle as a fundraiser for my son's soccer team!  

But this was a whole different level of fundraising. I was worried that I might not be able to reach my original goal of $10,000. That seemed like such a large amount to have to raise on my own. Could I do it? Who will contribute to my cause? Kelley, the MMRF's manager for our team, assured us that the fundraising would not be that difficult and that we had lots of tools to work with and not to worry. 

I haven't had much experience with the social media scene. Having grown up in the '70s without computers or smart phones, fundraising via social media and e-mail has been an eye opening experience for me, and I'm amazed at the success that I have experienced. It is truly incredible!

All of us have our own personal page that links to the donate page. Click, pick and give! WOW. It's that simple. After I posted for the first time, I sat back and watched my anxiety begin to build. Am I going to be able to make the $10,000 commitment? I had provided my credit card number as a guarantee, so at least I would have made a bunch of miles with my mileage program. I was a bit worried because I was a late addition to the team and a little behind the eight ball, so I had to play catch up.

Then, my first donation came in and I was notified via email! Simply amazing to say the least! As the days and weeks went by, the donations started coming in and I was like, “WOW” this is pretty cool… $25, $50 and then $100. They started adding up, and then I received a $500 donation that blew me away! Each donation made me very happy and humble that folks would donate to my #MM4MM effort. By late October, I was a little over halfway to my goal and had received some commitments from my brother, who had been spreading the word, of some pretty nice amounts that would be coming soon. I was excited to be closing in on my $10,000 goal. My father-in-law has been a huge supporter and he sent emails to all of his friends and family challenging them with matching contributions. His efforts and his donations generated over $3,000 over the course of the campaign.

Then on October 21, I opened the most remarkable email from a man that had read a front page story about me in the Juneau Empire. He looked at the MMRF webpage and found more information about the fundraising efforts. He wrote that he lost his father to multiple myeloma in May 2015. He shared a bit about his company and all the things that we had in common. We both operate charter boats in Southeast Alaska and both love sharing the beauty of Alaska with folks from all over. The Boat Company operates two large vessels and takes people on extended adventures throughout SE Alaska. They offer first class accommodations for their guests and have a great reputation. My business, Juneau Adventures, operates day trips out of Auke Bay in Juneau. He ended his email by letting me know he was sending a check to my fundraising effort in the amount of $5,000 and wished me good luck! I was overwhelmed. I showed my wife the email, and we were both overcome with emotion. I called Hunter the next day and had a great conversation. I learned about his father and all his efforts to help preserve the beauty of SE Alaska. What an amazing family!

The donations kept coming in and I received several more 'Angel' donations from my old friend Gary V and Capt. Mike (according to my wife, he is my bromance throughout the charter season) – $1,000 each. It has been the most humbling experience.

Cancer sucks – PERIOD! 

It's not a club that anybody joins voluntarily and if and when you do, there are two paths. With the support and encouragement from folks like KC, Gayle, Janice, MAC, Doug, Deb, Frank, Liz and others, I have charged into the multiple myeloma battle, continue to educate myself and try to support those that are new to the club and haven't learned the “ropes.”

The Team for Cures does so much more than raise money. It brings people together for a common cause, and I am so proud to be a member of the 2017 Mt. Kilimanjaro Trek Team. In being a part of this, in wearing my bright orange Moving Mountains shirt, I make connections, raise awareness and money for research that prolongs lives. I believe that there will be a cure in the very near future.

I had to change my goal amount on my fundraising page from $10,000 to $15,000 and felt pretty stoked about that. Then, when I surpassed $15,000, and raised it to $20,000, I wondered, “How the heck did this happen?” I was so nervous when I first signed on about making my original commitment and now, I'm in awe!  

I'm just a regular guy from small town Juneau that handles cargo for Alaska Airlines and takes folks out fishing and whale watching in the summer. I feel so humbled by all the people that have demonstrated their love, hope and faith in me with their generosity.   

The 15-member team will do great, and there will be lots of photos, videos and interviews as we climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. During this climb, we will get the media attention, etc. And the rest of the team, the donors, are behind the scenes. Thank you for opening your wallets so generously. Just like the folks in Juneau did when my son Andrew would knock on our neighbor’s door and say "Hi Lynette, it's just me, Andrew, selling more raffle tickets," so many years ago. Thank you for opening your door when I knocked.

Thanks so much to all the donors on behalf of the 2017 Mt. Kilimanjaro team as we climb towards a cure! 
One Mountain Down, Many More to Come
Wednesday, January 18
From the low valleys of despair, to the highs of the mountaintops! That describes my journey down the multiple myeloma highway.
 
April 2009 - April is a month with lots of remembrances. I was born in April, as were two of my brothers, my grandfather and my uncle. My wedding anniversary is April 28. And I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on April 29. My wife and I spent our 19th wedding anniversary in Seattle at Virginia Mason Medical Center awaiting the results of my first bone marrow biopsy.  
 
You remember small details when your life is on spin cycle. When I made our hotel reservations the night we traveled to Seattle, I mentioned to the employee at the front desk that our anniversary was the next day. When we arrived late that night, we were surprised with a bottle of champagne, flowers and a gift certificate to the hotel restaurant. In fact, there were two bottles of champagne because our friends had contacted the hotel and arranged for a bottle to help us celebrate. The circumstances weren’t conducive for celebrating, but the gestures were very much appreciated.           
 
After numerous appointments with the oncologist and oncological radiologist, various blood tests, an MRI, bone marrow biopsy, and other associated pokes and prods, I had my schedule of treatment: five weeks of radiation to eradicate the grapefruit-sized tumor on my pelvis, monthly infusions, and checkups every three months. I only had a single tumor, so it was diagnosed as a single plasmacytoma and not multiple myeloma. My oncologist thought I would be in good shape after radiation. He stated that he'd seen these situations before, and he recommended that I watch and wait because there was a possibility that it might not progress to multiple myeloma!
 
When faced with these types of medical situations, the least little bit of good news can be such a relief to someone who is already emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. I was so relieved to hear that I might be done with this mess after five weeks of radiation! I felt euphoric and optimistic, to say the least. Five weeks of radiation, and I'm done! I would be back to my job at Alaska Airlines in Juneau and could begin preparing for the upcoming charter season. In addition to working for the airline, I operate a seasonal fishing/sightseeing business called Juneau Adventures. I was anxious to be able to operate the business during the season.
 
I began radiation in May 2009. When you live in Alaska, you typically travel to Seattle for medical treatment. Insurance doesn’t pay for accommodations when you are receiving treatment out of town, but my radiologist connected me to the American Cancer Society, who had a list of hotels who donated rooms. I was able to stay in some of the nicer hotels in downtown Seattle and take the bus up the hill to Virginia Mason every day.    
 
Seattle is absolutely beautiful in the spring, so if you're going to have medical treatment in Seattle, by all means schedule it in the spring. (Like there is an option, ha!) I was able to schedule my treatment at 8 a.m. every day and take the bus uphill to the hospital.  Then, I would walk back downhill to my hotel. The city is so beautiful with so many attractions; I saw something new every day. I've been traveling there for many years, but was still able to discover new parts of the city.
             
As I was nearing the end of my radiation, the results were looking good, and I finally found the courage to ask my radiologist if he thought I would be able to climb a mountain in Colorado the following month. We had a family vacation scheduled, and my father in law had picked Mt. Bierstadt (14,060 ft) as the summer challenge. The previous year, we climbed Mt. Princeton and had decided that we'd do another in '09. He gave me this look like, "what are you talking about?" I explained that it was a family gig, and I didn't want to have to sick out. He reminded me that I had just had a huge tumor blasted off my pelvis, (like I needed reminding) but he also realized my need to return to a somewhat normal life. He gave me some parameters to adhere to: no running, jumping, or falling, period! I assured him that I had no plans to do the first two and promised to be careful on the third. He then gave me his blessing. Thank you to my doctor for encouraging me to get back on my horse and charge back into living! That has been my constant motto, and I tell that to all the people that I’m connected to on the message boards that I follow. Keep charging forward and keep living!   
 
We all met in Colorado in mid-July. Early in the morning, we met in the parking lot at the beginning of the Mt Bierstadt trail and began our climb. We all have our reasons for doing these kinds of challenges. My challenge took on a different significance after the diagnosis and treatment.  As we closed in on the summit, I had almost run out of gas, and I found out that, sometimes, we just can't do things alone. I was stopped about 250 ft. from the summit and was looking at the top.  I was totally gassed and didn't think that I could go any further.  My youngest son, Andrew, backtracked because he saw me leaning against one of the many boulders on the path.  "Dad,” he said, “you can do this."   I told Andrew that I was just out of gas.  “No, you're not, Dad.  Come on I'll help you the rest of the way!”  
 
Sometimes, you just can't do it alone! The following December, I found my second plasmacytoma and became a member of the multiple myeloma club. I haven’t climbed a mountain since the summer of 2009, but that climb is one of the important events of my post-diagnosis life.  It represented my ability to challenge myself and overcome obstacles at a time that my confidence in life had taken a serious hit.    
 
When we met for our Mt. Kilimanjaro team training climb in July 2016, I was excited to see that we were climbing Mt. Bierstadt. This mountain represented my ability to push myself, continue to live my life as I meant to go on and rely on help from others when I needed energy or encouragement. I believe that this Mt. Kilimanjaro climb will offer our team the same opportunity to push each other, keep charging forward, and lean on each other as we summit the mountain. Mt. Kilimanjaro, here I come!
 
 
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