Climb for a Cure 2014, Thompson Peak, 10,751 feet
The long traverses across talus beds and snow fields on the way to the summit was a reminder to never give up. Whether you are facing breast cancer or another difficulty, the challenge is to always keep your eyes up and keep going.
— Thompson Peak climber and breast cancer survivor Jennifer Self
KETCHUM, Idaho, August 9, 2014—Esteemed mountaineer Melissa Arnot led ten climbers during Expedition Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research’s Annual Climb for a Cure on Saturday, August 2 up 10,751 ft. Thompson Peak. The climbers and other supporters raised more than $19,000 for breast cancer research.
The Climb for a Cure is an annual event that continues the tradition of Expedition Inspiration Founder Laura Evans’ historic Aconcagua climb with fellow breast cancer survivors.
"The long traverses across talus beds and snow fields on the way to the summit was a reminder to never give up,” said climber and breast cancer survivor Jennifer Self. "Whether you are facing breast cancer or another difficulty, the challenge is to always keep your eyes up and keep going."
Expedition Inspiration's active adventures are structured to empower and promote the health and well being of all who participate while increasing breast cancer research funds.
"The Climb also enabled us to honor those lost to the disease and those currently fighting it by writing names on prayer flags,” said Self. "Twenty feet down from the summit, on a stone ledge, the climbers hung their tribute flags on a small gauge climbing rope. Climber Maddy Miller rang a bell she brought back from climbing in India, as each climber spoke the names of those honored. The summit of Thompson Peak, which is most often pelted by high winds, rain and snow, was at that moment totally still.”
Funds raised by the climbers will go directly to the Annual Laura Evans Memorial Breast Cancer Symposium, an invitation-only conference that brings renowned scientists, researchers and physicians from around the world to share unpublished information, analyze breakthroughs, discuss advances in treatment, and recognize hurdles to finding a cure.
Expedition Inspiration’s next active adventure, the Take-a-Hike for Breast Cancer Research, will take place on September 13, 2014 in Boise, Idaho.
Veteran mountaineer, Melissa Arnot, who at 30 has already summited Mount Everest five times, took turns leading and tailing the climb with Sara Lundy of Sawtooth Mountain Guides. Both guides skillfully set a pace that gave all team members the best opportunity to summit on a day that provided a clear blue sky and unlimited views from 10,751 feet.
The summit itself was barely the size of a coffee table and only allowed 3 to 4 climbers on the actual summit at a time while a thousand foot drop melted away from the summit on three of its four sides. Twenty feet down from the summit, on a stone ledge, the climbers hung their tribute flags on a small gauge climbing rope. Climber Maddy Miller rang a bell she brought back from climbing in India, as each climber spoke the names of those honored. The summit of Thompson Peak which is most often pelted by high winds, rain and snow, was at that moment, totally still.
The money raised from this climb will fund research that will continue to re-shape the impact of breast cancer for both the patient and the oncologist. At the Annual Laura Evans Breast Cancer Symposium Open Forum in March of this year, Marc Lippman, MD opened with the statement, "Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer now, will die of something else.” And in light of the complexities of cancer, that is very good news.
Although the cure for breast cancer remains the final unsummited peak, the research is closing in on survivability. This is very encouraging for climber Jennifer Self who just completed one year of chemotherapy in May for breast cancer. "Standing on the summit with these other climbers is a reminder of how far the treatments have progressed, enabling patients to continue their jobs, lives and even fitness routines. But I am the recipient of treatment options that were not available even a few years ago.”
Expedition Inspiration continues to shine a light on breast cancer survivors by offering support and encouragement and also offers several annual events throughout Idaho to call attention to the need to find a cure. Over their 19 year history, Expedition Inspiration has stayed true to the vision of their founder Laura Evans, "Until there is a cure, there is a climb.”
This year's Climb for a Cure was led by Sawtooth Mountain Guides.
Yes, Hiking is Good for Your Health, Folks!
Hiking is accessible. Here in the Treasure Valley we have the Boise Foothills or if you want to take a drive, the Owyhee Mountains. There are trails of every level and the best way to learn is to check Ridge to Rivers website.
I recently read a blog post about three reasons to go hiking on The Silver Pen. I follow this blog because of her determination to overcome breast cancer and what follows in life.
As for Hollye’s suggestions on why to go hiking, I thought of a few more for our Idaho readers…..
- Hiking is accessible. Here in the Treasure Valley we have the Boise Foothills or if you want to take a drive, the Owyhee Mountains. There are trails of every level and the best way to learn is to check Ridge to Rivers website. Here you will find information on everything from trail conditions to an interactive trail map. Besides, the views are spectacular! If you just want to walk, the Boise River Greenbelt system is a beautiful alternative.
- Don’t forget the spectacular hiking in Idaho’s State and National Parks! Sawtooth National Recreation Area north of Ketchum and Ponderosa State Park in McCall come to mind that are no more than a 3 hour drive from the Treasure Valley. Find more at http://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/
- Hiking is good for your physical health. I could write the reasons that are a mile long, but an excellent list can be found on The Good Hiker . Personally, I hike daily because I have a labradoodle and he needs the exercise. Come to think of it, so do I!
- Hiking can be social. Yes, you read that right. No kidding, no matter what trail I choose in the mornings, I always run in to someone I know. Even the new trail users I meet are always smiling and say a warm hello. Can you imagine seeing a great smile to start your day? Not to mention sharing your own bright smile with others!
- Hiking is an excellent stress reliever. Believe it or not, it can also help if you have insomnia. Being outdoors for your physical workout, no matter how strenuous or not, helps your mind and soul. Find your inner peace on your favorite trail.
We sure hope you brush off those hiking boots or trail runners soon!
Monthly Workout: Yoga from Teri Roseman
My name is Teri Roseman and I am a breast cancer survivor and a current member of the board of directors of Expedition Inspiration. I came back to a gentle yoga practice shortly before my breast cancer diagnosis to help me through an emotionally challenging time in my life. Since the time of my diagnosis and treatment, my practice has become more and more a part of my daily life. To the extent that I became a yoga teacher and therapist, opened a studio and continue to practice at some level every day.
A very practiced yogi and western medical doctor, Tim McCall said, that until you had a personal practice, you’re doing yoga for exercise and are not living a yogic lifestyle. Having only practiced in a group or private setting until that point, it only made sense to me once I created my own personal discipline as part of my regime. My practice consists of daily asana (poses), pranayama (breathing) and meditation. Anywhere from 7 minutes to a hour+ depending on the day.
Each day start with gentle breathing. Sit in a comfortable position. In a chair with feet on the ground, legs at a 90-degree angle, or on a cushion on the floor in a comfortable cross legged position. There are many pranayama techniques. A simple one to start with is counting the breath. Begin counting the length of your inhale breath, come to a steady rhythm. Match the length of your exhale to your inhale, get a steady rhythm. And to take it further if you’re feeling particularly agitated or need help to go to sleep, increase the length of your exhale longer then your inhale. This will slow the parasympathetic nervous system and calm the body and mind. Sit for a few minutes before beginning the physical practice.
I recommend a general all inclusive (flexion, extension, lateral movement and twists) asana sequence to work with for 3 – 6 months depending on what your physical, emotional, mental goals are. My personal sequences begin with a sun salutation derivative, followed by seated or lying down poses, moving to hands and knees poses and then standing poses. At the end of the physical practice, rest in svasana, corpse pose, supine on the floor, legs and feet relaxed, arms down by your side, about 8 – 10 inches from the body, palms facing up.
Come to sitting up. Find again a comfortable seated position as described above. It is important that you are comfortable and can sit for 3 – 30 minutes in meditation. There are many different techniques. I practice japa (mantra meditation) with mala beads (used to count mantra). A simple tool is to use the universal mantra of “So” and Hum. Just say quietly to yourself on the inhale, “Soooooo” and on the exhale “Huuummm”. If your mind begins to wander just bring it back with the so/hum mantra. Sit for 3 to 30 minutes.
For aerobic exercise I bike or walk 5 mornings a week, and as often as possible get out for a hike. I also take yoga classes a few times a week with my favorite teachers. There’s still no replacement for the group energy of a class! It’s easy to add exercise into everyday tasks. Bike to work. Take the stairs. Park the furthest away in the parking lot and walk.
Survivor Stories: Nancy Knoble
I have told my story about a thousand times. I was 45, and my father had just died of cancer. I had a significant career, was a strong athlete, and was very involved in my community. It was a Tuesday, my dad’s birthday, when I learned I had stage one, ER negative breast cancer. I was too stunned by my father’s death and too busy to get overly worked up. I selected a surgeon, set a date and got on with it.
Friday that week, I attended a breast cancer fundraising event. The MC asked breast cancer survivors to stand up. It was my first realization my identity had changed. It felt very strange. It was at the same event that Laura Evans, founder of Expedition Inspiration, announced she intended to lead a team of breast cancer survivors up the highest peak in South America to raised awareness about breast cancer. My diagnosis took on a new perspective; I qualified to apply for the climb—a silver lining to the dark cloud of cancer. A year later, I had taken a month’s leave from work and was at the trailhead for the trek to base camp on Mt. Aconcagua. It was a year to the day since I had completed treatment.
In retrospect, this was a watershed. I was doing what I wanted to do, not what was expected. Co-workers were stunned – a month off to climb a mountain? What about due dates, goals, supervision, crisis that might (would) arise in my absence? My husband was feeling proud, “left behind” and uncertain, but he was always supportive. I felt alive and challenged. I was a part of a team doing something very important for ourselves and also for all people diagnosed with this disease. At that time, breast cancer was not on the national radar screen, research was not well funded, and women diagnosed with breast cancer walked the path of treatment and recovery relatively alone.
The public was enormously impacted by the climb. A documentary of the climb aired on PBS, and TV, radio, magazines and newspapers covered it. The team was invited to the White House. It had big impact on me as well. I gave a year’s notice to resign my career position.
Each time I think about my experience with breast cancer I regard it with a new perspective. It was a difficult year in my life that forced me to overcome fear, open new doors and directions and change my identity: all true, all important, all profound. A second round of breast cancer cemented the reality of the disease in my life. I redoubled my commitment to supporting breast cancer research. I redoubled my commitment to living life to the fullest and in the present.
Since that time I have served continuously in some volunteer capacity related to the fight against breast cancer. I have traveled, climbed mountains, run marathons, and worked in a variety of jobs with great people who are doing interesting things.
At 64, I own a ranch, raise goats and chickens, make cheese, and serve on three nonprofit boards. I wake up each morning grateful for my life and the day ahead. Where might I be today, what might I be doing, how did breast cancer change the course of my life? It is hard to say but I know it has helped me become the person I am today.
Survivor Stories: Suzanne Pere-Mulenos
Suzanne Pere-Mulenos has been a breast cancer survivor since her diagnosis in 1998. Though diagnosed with DCIS, Suzanne’s unique case was treated aggressively. Suzanne’s unique case was treated aggressively due to her relatively young age, the extensiveness of the disease, suspicious family history and confounding pathology report. She underwent a mastectomy, quadrantectomy and radiation and a subsequent five years of Tamoxefin. Inspired to take action after her experience, Suzanne began volunteering for Expedition Inspiration and subsequently served on the board and as chair of the board from 2011-2012. She currently serves on Expedition Inspiration’s Executive Committee.
One of the most Earth shattering sentences a woman can hear from her doctor is, “You have breast cancer.”
These ominous words arrived nearly fifteen years ago on a cold and gray Seattle New Year’s Eve day, leaving an indelible mental snapshot of that moment. My world has never been the same since.
My first concern was for my family and close friends: How could I put them through this? There had been enough tragedies in my family—the early and sudden death of my older brother, the horrid car crash that left my younger brother in a wheelchair for an indeterminate amount of time—how could I add even more sadness to the world my loved ones were already reeling from? I had a seven-year-old daughter to raise. In what manner would this event forever scar her? How would my family survive the emotional and financial burden about to challenge us, during a time my husband was developing his business?
Ultimately, there is never a perfect time to get breast cancer: This universal truth I have since learned from my sisters-in arms, fellow soldiers in the battle with breast cancer who have led me on and off of the battle ground. In order to survive—and to me that does not necessarily mean total lifetime remission—I became determined to take more from the breast cancer than it took from me, even if it meant that I might someday die from it.
During the treatment, surgeries and the healing phase, I found that it was important to accept the help from friends and family, yet maintain a schedule that was as close to “normal” as possible.
Radiation treatments took place during my daughter’s school and husband’s work hours, and the necessary naps occurred before their return. I continued in my occupation as a fitness instructor. I took care of all dressing changes and drainage tubes, and kept my scars to myself. Though I was not ashamed of my newly disfigured body (that was the least of my worries) I did not want to further traumatize those I loved, and I was determined to be more than my disease in my eyes and the eyes of others. I went to the lingerie counter and got myself a lacy pink camisole that was soft and lose enough to be a comfort at night to my ravaged chest. This elicited a chuckle from my husband who was used to cuddling up to my favorite unceremonious t-shirt at bedtime.
In time, I began to find other women who had similar stories including some who had much more to contend with than I did. I discovered who my true friends were; those who had the courage to stay near when I needed them, no matter what my future held. I began to volunteer for the Expedition Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research. I went to their annual Open Forum and learned as much as I could about my enemy. I spoke about breast health and vigilance in my classes and held conferences on breast cancer education at my job site, so that others could also be empowered by knowledge. I learned that the tears would not last forever if I just remembered to be thankful for this moment…I began to heal.
Instead of being a part of the disease, I had become a part of the cure.
Today, I can say that the indelible snapshot of the moment I was told of my diagnosis is still there, but it is carefully compartmentalized, and I pull that picture out only if I choose to. Though I have found that its image is beginning to fade, the lessons I learned on my journey have not.