Category: LiFE is NOW…Moments

Place for sharing those life altering moments

Help Support Gary & MPN Research Foundation

This story is the epitome of a LiFE is NOW… moment, and we are pushing to help support Gary and the MPN Research Foundation. We are pledging $10 of every select Mountain High product sold will go to MPN Research in Gary’s name. Click here to purchase Mountain High gear and support Gary. Rather, however, than try to write the story we will let Gary tell it as he has on is Facebook account.

Gary in his Mountain High tee for MPN research

As an avid hiker I assumed the pain in my toes was from my descents down the mountains but when it didn’t go away I assumed it was something else. I tried insoles. I went to the podiatrist but the burning still occurred. The frequency increased. This past December 2021 my doctor ordered blood tests. Those tests detected an elevated platelet count and I was sent to an oncologist who did more blood tests that detected a JAK 2 mutation. I had no idea what that was. The oncologist told me I had Essential Thrombocytosis, a blood cancer known as a Myoproliferative Neoplasm. Once I heard “blood cancer” I think I heard the doctor’s every-other-word. I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. I decided to go to Boston to get a second opinion. Dr. Hobbs, from MGH, ordered more blood work and a bone biopsy. I was then diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera, another Myoproliferative Neoplasm, a blood cancer that elevates red blood cells and can effect platelet count. PV trumps ET. She recommended I immediately start phlebotomy therapy every two weeks. Having a fear of needles this was, and still is, a harrowing thought. When the doctor told me I had a rare blood cancer, that word “cancer” hit me hard. What did I need to do? How much time did I have? What will Jess do? Is my will in order? Should I arrange my funeral so my family doesn’t have to? I need to repair everything on the house that I’ve been putting off. Do I tell my kids? My Dad can’t lose a third child before he passes!

The word “Cancer” holds so much power if we let it. I asked my doctor how much time I had. She said as long as I follow all of the recommendations I should live at least another 14-20 years, if not longer. I needed to do everything possible to combat a blood clot and hope that it did not mutate into Leukemia. Okay, what do I need to do?

She gave me a list:

1.Lose weight; (I then dropped 30 pounds since Christmas and the Cougars Den’s profits fell 33%)

2. Follow a heart healthy diet and stay away from iron-rich foods

3. Stay away from sugar

4. Stay away from red meat

5. Take aspirin every day

6. Undergo phlebotomy treatment

7. Exercise every day

I felt empowered. It’s a “Cancer.” It’s one that can be managed but not cured. I started to realize I had some control. This was not going to define me or stop me from living a happy & joyful life. “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what” (Lee; To Kill a Mocking Bird). I believe optimism and hope are disciplines. I refuse to let go of them. With the constant support of Jess we carved out yet another plan. I told the kids. Yes, I started repairing the house, No, I haven’t told my Dad, there’s no need. I will not burden him with this. What next? I have hiked all over New England and New York including the “The New Hampshire 48- 4000 footers,” and “The New England 67- 4000 footers”. I have also done some hiking in Scotland. In my life whenever I face struggles I take to the mountains. It allows me to focus my mind and spirit on my “next steps.” It’s where I go to recharge. I needed to have a positive impact on my circumstances.

I decided I would attempt to hike a big one on my bucket list- the Long Trail in Vermont; a 272 mile (with 65,370 feet of elevation gain) hike from south to north through the entire State of Vermont, as a fundraiser. I always wanted to hike it- why not do it with a purpose? I have never attempted anything that would place me on the trail for this long. Success is attained step by step much like hiking. While hiking you will slip and fall, you will deal with pain and discomfort. You will be wet and cold, you will descend and ascend but you will also witness bucolic vistas, magnificent sunrises & sunsets, babbling brooks, majestic waterfalls, cooling rivers, industrious wildlife, smells and scents that feed the soul. Hiking is an easy metaphor for life. One that fuels my spirit. Once you ascend to the mountaintop you invariably descend to the col or valley only to eventually ascend another mountain. In Life we will have successes but “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Churchill. Those times in the valley, literally and figuratively, that is where we reflect, where we gain our strength to ascend again; to gain perspective and understanding. The trail trains my approach to life. Although the trail is long and the seed is sowed I’ll meet you further on up the trail. One sunny morning we’ll rise I know and I’ll meet you further on up the trail.

If you feel so inclined I would appreciate if you would please consider donating to the Myelproliferative Neoplasms Research Foundation (MPN Research Foundation).

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Early Bird Gets the Worm; and the Fog!

It’s 7:00 am eastbound along the Cape Cod Canal. The sun has just risen over the horizon as we make our way into the light of the orange glow. If we had been driving along on auto-pilot it may have been missed. But, in the early mornings along the canal memorable reminders bubble to the surface; auto-pilot is manually shut off and we begin to take in the quiet morning as it awakens for the day.

And, there it is!!

From the time we were young, we were told you have to get up early to see it. If you were 5 minutes late it may not be there. Today, timing was perfect. Like a lot of good things in life you first have to be on the look out and aware; and secondly, the timing needs to be right.

Sunrise on the Cape Cod Railway

We love early mornings. The world is quiet and serene. You get to watch the day as it begins to unfold. Fishermen make their way along the docks (chatting and laughing of yesterday’s events) heading to ready their boats for today’s adventures. Shop owners, sweeping up, unfurling awnings and opening their doors to unveil the enviable aromas of coffee and freshly baked bread and pastries. Other early risers are out getting an exercise jump on the day as they jog, bike or walk with friends. The dew isn’t yet burned off by the rising sun and everything in its path glows in that sunrise flat light while it whitewashes the world until it rises higher in the morning sky and changes day from slumber to awake.

It’s a time to review and reflect, anticipate and plan; and most of all recharge and be grateful for everything that is life; oh yeah, and drink really good coffee while doing it all!!

Sunrise, birds and early morning fog on the Cape Cod Canal

Back to the original topic at hand. Turning the corner, the sunrise hit us smack in the face and with the windows down we began taking in the sights and sounds of the early morning; and, there it is. We pulled off the side of the road down into a bumpy parking lot and parked; figuring a little effort might get a big reward. The reward was there but the effort was slightly larger than little. In flip flops we carried our trusty phone camera as we traversed down a steep embankment, through a thicket and onto slippery rocks to the spot. The effort and time paid off as the photo below reveals.

The sun shrouded in mist lit up the shining steel of the bridge while the early morning fog hovered above the water and rolled beneath the bridge.

Sunrise and early morning fog on the Cape Cod Canal / Sagamore Bridge
Sunrise and early morning fog on the Cape Cod Canal / Sagamore Bridge

We smile every time we get to witness this event as it not only reminds us to be present, but it also reminds us of those that have gone before us. So, the next time you’re up early, head to your local gathering spot, marina, beach, lake or waterway; watch the world awaken and smile at the fog.

LiFE is NOW… get out of the fog and SEE THE FOG!

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Memorial Day Reminder

Me·mo·ri·al Day/məˈmôrēəl ˌdā/noun

a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered, traditionally observed on May 30 but now officially observed on the last Monday in May.

For many it is the unofficial start of summer in the North. Packed with parades, road races and cookouts. But, for some it’s a somber reminder of fallen and lost loved ones. While we enjoy our activities let’s not forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to be able to safely and comfortably spend time with family and friends.

So, let’s take a moment to remember those gone before us, fighting for our right to live free; and, let’s be there for those still here that have lost loved ones.

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A Deeper Meaning of LiFE…

Pocomo Head, Nantucket

So, we guess it’s time to find out what this thing is all about. “A tiny company with a big idea” – boy that’s really thinking big!. “Own it, Live it, Love it“- well, we own it so that’s good, we love it; another plus…but, are we living it?!. I’m not sure. Let’s travel back in time and review our founding principles which we’ve incorporated in our website in “The Story

We mention working for someone else’s dream and being perched (and toiling) behind a computer, strapped to a desk. Uh-oh. But sometimes, working for someone else’s dream is also a long road to your own dream. LiFE gets in the way. Kids, pets, college and family start to take precedence over that dream. But at no time is the dream extinguished; it’s kept on the back burner to simmer while LiFE runs its course; until it is time to turn up the heat. During this simmering phase, all is not lost and it’s not time wasted; as images, dreams and ideas are constantly permeating the mind.

One of our founding principles was to get people to recognize the moment of NOW and just simply live in it. Forget about yesterday and stop worrying about tomorrow. You’re only stealing energy away from enjoying the moment you’re in currently.

But is that enough? We don’t think so. We, as a community, are able to focus our energy at living life to the fullest; but there are those who by choice or by circumstance are either fighting for our lives or fighting for their own. We are able to live freely without worry because of those who selflessly give of themselves to protect our freedoms. Then there are those who are fighting for their own lives; either due to illness or tragedy. We thought both deserved recognition and help. Please consider donating or volunteering to help others (helpful links on homepage). You’ll be glad you did. Perhaps you’ll find a deeper meaning of life.

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