I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer in 2008. Like anyone diagnosed with cancer, it changes your life. This was intensified 6 months later when my husband was diagnosed with a genetic form of cancer, and passed way within 8 months...

At the age of 47, I was faced with being a widow raising three children, going back to work full time, dealing with having cancer, and the fact that his cancer was hereditary.

My new job required me to sit at a desk in an office for 8 hours a day. Something I was not used to because my prior part job facilitating events, including one of the largest 5K races in NJ, was very physical. To release the feeling of a caged animal, I would run up the stairs in my office building every day at lunch. It was a great stress reliever, not to mention fantastic exercise for this runner who started competing at the age of 7. I first learned of stair climbing when my late husband had an office job. He would run up the stairs at lunch during his short-lived office job in NYC. He later became a commercial diver, salvaging all over the world.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) heard about my stair climbing and invited me to participate in the prestigious Empire State Building Run Up (ESBRU) to raise awareness for the MMRF. Not only did I immerse myself in my training, but I dedicated my time to raising funds for the MMRF. In the past 8 years, over 1.8 million dollars was raised for the MMRF by participants in the ESBRU.

Within 5 years of competitive stair climbing, I became ranked 20th overall in the world and 5th overall in the nation by the World Tower Running Association.

In 2016, I started treatment for Multiple Myeloma and underwent an autologous stem cell transplant in 2017. What brought me to stair climbing tried to take it away. I vowed I would return stronger! Four months after my transplant, I ran a 5 mile race and then competed in a stair climb.

I’m back to competing in stair climbs all over the world, as well as other races for the MMRF, including a 200 mile relay, a 12 hour relay, and a 5K chaired by my oncologist, Dr Edward Staptmauer of the University of Penn Hospital.

I enjoy encouraging others going through adversity. I have appeared on numerous talk shows and radio interviews all while training, working full time, and supporting my 3 children, who are now successful young adults.

Currently, I show no signs of Multiple Myeloma but continue to take chemotherapy as maintenance therapy. I find inspiration in obstacles.  I don't always enjoy them, but I love to overcome them!

©2020 Sally Kalksma Greater New York Area, United States.

sjkalksma@gmail.com
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