Name:Colleen Smithson
Hometown:St. Louis, MO
Reason for climbing:Lost Mother to Multiple Myeloma
My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in July of 2012 after several months of unexplained, severe back pain and constant fatigue. After several skeletal scans and some blood tests, her doctor finally had the diagnosis: Multiple Myeloma. We were told this was the "best" cancer to get if you had to get cancer. So with confidence, we began the usual treatments and in January 2013, my mom received a stem cell transplant. The doctor informed us that things looked good and after some recovery time, my mom was doing great!

From February to November 2013, my mom was in great health. I had recently gotten engaged and we spent months planning my wedding. My mom seemed to be back to her old self. By the time the wedding rolled around in November, my mom had her own hair back and was feeling wonderful. She was radiant that day and I was so happy to have her there to walk me down the aisle (my father passed away when I was 16).

In January 2014, everything changed. At one of our millions of doctor's appointments, the doctor told us that Myeloma had started growing on her lungs and was causing a fluid build-up. We were told that because the transplant had only worked for a short time, she did not have the opportunity to get another transplant. We started looking at some other options. Eventually the fluid was constricting her lung too much and she had to get a Plurex catheter placed inside her rib cage. The Plurex allowed her to "drain" her chest with the help of a nurse several times a week while she took chemo.

From that point on, every drug she tried only lasted for a few months and then would quit working. Her health began to decline and in September 2014, we were told that there was nothing left that we could do for her. My aunt Mary Anne (who was sharing care giving duties with me) and I decided to start in-home hospice care. On October 1, 2014, just 10 days shy the 10th anniversary of my Dad's passing, my mom took her last breath.

I want to participate in this climb because I want to honor my mom's journey with Multiple Myeloma and I want to bring awareness to the disease. I also hope to raise $10,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation so that other patients might have the opportunity my mom didn't have: a cure.
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