Making a difference one step at a time

Published on Wed, May 8, 2013 by Dr. Marta Kazymyra

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Just over a month ago, 6,000 of us participated in The Big Climb.

Our ages ranged from 8 to 80-plus; our times were all over the map but our goal was the same. It was to make a difference in people’s lives who have been affected by leukemia and lymphoma, raise awareness about these horrible diseases and, most importantly, to raise money for continued research that is happening at lightening speed.

I have to say, we participants feel that we reached all of those goals.

The climb was something I will never forget. My first vision was looking at the outside of the building when we arrived on a lovely, crisp March day in Seattle, and thinking, “Oh, you are nuts to be attempting this at your age.”

Then I saw the people inside walking around, some healthy like me with full heads of hair, some bald thanks to chemo, some with oxygen tanks, survivors like Larissa and people with photos of their loved ones who were not so lucky, eight-year-old kids and old folks, all challenging and pushing themselves for a cause. Are you crying yet, because every time I think of this, I do.

To say the least, it was a very emotional day. Thank you Larissa and Deb, who is no longer with us, for inspiring me to make a difference in this world!

Last week some of us were asked to attend the awards ceremony at the Columbia Tower, and Larissa’s Team 13, which I was so privileged to be a part of, came in third out of all of the entries from over several states.

What an amazing and emotional evening that was, especially when our dear stem-cell survivor Larissa accepted the award on our behalf. Four of us made VIP due to the amount of donations we received, thanks to all of you generous people. I cannot thank you enough for all of your support.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society had hoped to raise 1.7 million dollars with this climb, but instead the number was a shocking 3.2 million dollars for this year! And as many of you know, I surpassed my personal goal of $5,000. I guess I’ll have to aim for higher numbers next year.

So to all of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Know that you too have made a difference in someone’s life – it may even be yours someday. Life is precious as well as very fragile. I see it with my work as a physician every day.

As the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger has said, “I’ll be back,” so I hope that I can inspire you all to donate again next year and consider getting a simple swab so you can be part of in case someone desperately needs your stem cells.

My personal motto: 

Success ... See your goal, understand the obstacles, create a positive mental picture, clear your mind of self doubt, embrace the challenge, stay on track and show the world you can do it!

By the way, my time was 23 minutes to the top – not bad for an old lady.