Melissa Ryan
Melissa Ryan

The Trip Is Here
Tuesday, August 09
After so many months, I can't believe the trip is finally here.  Between starting a new job, picking finishes for our new home, putting our house on the market and my son starting college, I have also been getting ready for this trip to Machu Picchu and raising awareness of multiple myeloma. It was last fall when I began searching or asking for a way to engage more intently with life. Look what those wishes brought! My dear friend Cindi was also searching for a way to celebrate her 10-year anniversary since stem cell transplant, an amazing milestone for which we are all so glad to be together!
 
It’s been years since Cindi’s example of intentionality in choices, words and manner has started to gently influence me. Her subtle attitude of embracing life in whatever form it brings seems to be ushering a new open awareness of the world around me into a greater focus. As my brother, Steve, commented in 1993, prior to his death from melanoma, cancer has a way of reorganizing your priorities in life.  This trip is an opportunity to focus on friendship and be with someone I care deeply about. We both want to experience what a healthy body can do! For the last couple months, we added hiking to our exercise routines to train for the five-mile ascent up to Machu Picchu. As Cindi commented about how weak she felt after her stem cell transplant, I rejoiced in the fact that she is so healthy and she can enjoy life right now. Without the amazing advances in treatment options, she may not be here today.
 
Cindi recently made a choice to stop her current chemo regimen due to unpleasant side effects. I am worried about this. I know these side effects are serious enough that they were interfering with a sense of enjoyment in and of her life.  As we are training for her “Olympic” event, climbing Machu Picchu, I am happy to see her vibrantly laughing and dispensing her wisdom as she mentors me in my career and in the art of living fully. But I know this energy that I see now may be at a deep expense of the cancer returning sooner rather than later.
 
When your friend has a deadly disease,  it makes you question what is most important in life. Right now, I think it is being with the people I love and experiencing the greatness of the world around us in all forms. Seeing Machu Picchu will be like walking on top of the world. I can’t believe how lucky I am to go with my dear friend and be a part of this team raising money and awareness to beat this terrible disease!
 
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