I Climbed a Mountain for Prevention!
It wasn’t easy, but it was the best thing I’ve done in a long time!
For my 40th birthday, I knew I wanted to do something memorable, meaningful and challenging. The typical wine tasting weekend or yoga retreat wasn’t going to cut it! My mom received her fatal breast cancer diagnosis around this age and my life mirrors hers in many ways- 3 kids, stay at home mom, same hands, same voice, good friendships, happy, and yet luckily … I am breast cancer free.
By participating in the Breast Cancer Fund’s Climb Against the Odds Challenge I hoped to inspire others to try something new, learn about breast cancer prevention, and make positive changes to prolong life and avoid illness. Personally, I wanted to reach a fitness level that would take me into the second half of my life with optimum health! To push myself to the next level- from active to Athlete!
The big picture was a bit overwhelming. Mt. Shasta is one of California’s 14,000+ footers and is covered in snow and ice even in June. Being a So-Cal gal, I didn’t even own a piece of wool clothing and the task was completely foreign. Not to mention the climb comes with a fundraising requirement of $6,000.
But I’ve learned if you take it a step at a time, focusing on the first and then the next… eventually you’ve climbed a mountain. In my case literally and figuratively!
I started small, hiking around town, with my kids and dogs, and eventually doing long Sunday hikes with a training partner. Adding extra time to my daily workout routine and taking the dogs on evening walks helped. I applied a fitness mindset into everything I did. Rather than taking the kids to a movie, we went to play tennis, paddleboard, swim, or bike ride.
Gear sponsors for the climb were plentiful and generous and my wardrobe soon contained woolen under layers, boots, backpack, glacier goggles, kanteens, trekking poles and all sorts of goodies I never knew I’d need but was thrilled to receive!
No stranger to fundraising, I set up my fundraising page right away and began spreading the word. I prefer being a part of a team and asked friends and volunteers to help with a BOTM-style grassroots garage sale. I also took advantage of the fundraising opportunity that Clif Bar Luna offers and hosted a LUNAFEST film festival. With a company match and some generous donations from friends and family I was able to raise $7500 and complete the required fundraising minimum.
Even though fundraising can be stressful, I always knew I would succeed.
Same with climbing the mountain; I knew I would summit. The only thing that I would allow to deter me would be nature herself! Luckily this June she was welcoming and the weather was ideal. So much so, that the guides were in awe of the conditions and a group before us had even carved a staircase of footfalls into a portion of the West Face!
Idyllic as they claimed, it was still the most difficult thing I have ever accomplished. Ten and a half hours of putting one foot in front of the other, breathing, moving forward, with one goal in mind.
28 climbers participated. All for personal reasons, some survivors, some sponsors, all ages, all because they believe in stopping cancer before it starts.
Reaching the summit was not the ultimate “takeaway” from this experience. It was a proud moment worthy of the effort. But the bigger gift was being involved with an amazing group of like-minded individuals who make up the Breast Cancer Fund and the 2012 climb team- A community of dedicated, positive, ambitious, do-gooders, pushing themselves, and striving to make a difference. I hope to harness their energy, commitment and intelligence and pass it on to all of you through Boobs on the Move, encouraging you to get active, be healthy and get involved in prevention.
Thank you to all who supported me, donated and made this adventure possible!
“The wind carries our prayers of love, healing and remembrance. May we all be well.” –Breast Cancer Fund Tibetan Prayer Flags flown at the summit of Mt. Shasta. June 20, 2012
Choose your own mountain and take that first step!
Photos by Cathyann Taylor