Caroline Knuth

Just Under a Mile
Wednesday, July 03
When I arrived in New Hampshire I was taken back by how beautiful it was. The white mountains border the quaint towns. Snow was still visible on the peak of Mt. Washington. I felt lucky to be there. I thought about the journey to this moment – training in Nebraska where there is not a rolling hill in sight, let alone a mountain. Treadmill incline was all I had to rely on, several times I had looked at the screen and said quietly to myself, “Just under a mile.”

Pictures and voices of my teammates was all I had until now – I was anxious and excited to finally meet these people in person. When I walked into the restaurant the room was filled with orange shirts and chatter. A young lady said, “You must be Caroline, it’s so nice to meet you!” I took a seat and was immediately met with joyful conversation from my teammates. Anxiety melted away and the excitement grew! Everyone shared their story and their why, we laughed and shed a few tears. What had been an individual journey to this point was morphed into our journey as a team.

The original plan was to summit Mt. Washington on Saturday, spend the night in the clouds and descend Sunday morning. Mt. Washington is known for its erratic weather and Mother Nature did not disappoint. Our overnight hike turned into a day hike. With disappointment, we took out the extra weight in our packs and geared up for the day. At Pinkham Notch we went over the trail plans and headed out. We made our way through the trees, I could hear the water running in the distance as we came to our first bridge. The waterfall just behind the bridge was beautiful, you could hear a collective breath from the team as the mist went across our faces. How lucky were we to be there?

The mountain was tough, we had to make our way over huge boulders and narrow ravines. The rocks were slick and sometimes we fell. Someone would grab for my hand when I slipped or helped to pull me up when the boulder was too big. We are that same hand for a family member or friend battling multiple myeloma. When we felt like we couldn’t go on, Jim would say, “Just under a mile,” and we knew it wouldn’t be long. We journeyed up and through Mt. Washington as a team, much like patients with multiple myeloma do as they fight through their cancer.

Excitement grew as we made our way to the top and emotions were in overdrive when we reached the peak. We took pictures and hugged, took a deep breath and then quickly started our descent. The way down was equally as tough as the way up. A helping hand or encouraging word was never far away. By now, we moved as one.
We were torn and tattered when we reached the bottom but overjoyed that we had made the journey. I couldn’t help but think how much this experience paralleled that of a patient with multiple myeloma. Except for one part, we were done with the hike and our journey was over. Today, patients will never have the same finality that we experienced after the hike, unless a cure is found.

My hope is the money we raised for multiple myeloma research will help find a cure. We are “just under a mile” and it won’t be long now. 
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