Sunday, November 27, 2011

To Climb or Not to Climb?

It was a Sunday evening like any other.  I was finishing up lesson plans for the week ahead, checking my email for updates from my grade partners, when I received an email from Dr. Fisher, one of my radiation oncologists (who treated me a year ago this week).

Subject:  Mia and Kili

Eh?  What's that you say?  Me, Mia?  Kili?

Obv not my photo
I read on to find out that Radiating Hope, this incredible non-profit organization whose mission is to bring radiation equipment to developing countries, is teaming up with Above and Beyond Cancer to send cancer survivors on amazing experiences.  They took 20 survivors to the Everest Base Camp last year, and their upcoming trip is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January.  They are looking for dynamic people with a story to tell - and he thought of me!  

Clearly, I'm flattered. One, that he remembered me.  Two, that I am a dynamic storyteller (imagine me blushing).  But then, hmm.  He wants me to climb the tallest free standing mountain in the world?  I can't even get up the stairs at work without my heart rate flying up to 160-170 bpm, and that's just to get to the second floor.   I wrote back to him, explaining that my physical condition may be a bit limiting for me here (HA!).  I mean, if this were a group trip to visit an ashram in India, I would jump right on board.  My personal Kili could be meditating for an hour straight... But actually climbing Kilimanjaro?  My first question to my mom was, "Do you think they have handicapped parking at the bottom of the mountain?"  Not quite my thing. 

Dr. Fisher writes back to explain that they are taking the "slow" way up the mountain, and I would be provided with my own porter (to shlep all my necessities) and a cook to ensure I'm nourished via food (if not with oxygen).  It's at this point that I begin to actually contemplate doing this.  And it's stressing me out going over this in my head again and again.  How can I pass up this opportunity?  Africa?  So flippin cool.  Bonding with people who understand what I've been through firsthand?  Priceless.

But all those pesky details are what really got to me.  Extreme altitudes?  Not great for someone with a breathing issue/sensitive airways.  Walking 5k, 8k, 12k for a week straight at said altitudes?  Probably less than ideal for someone whose heart races up to 120 while making breakfast.  I'm thinking there's a high probability I wouldn't survive this so-called slow walk.

After much deliberation (with my therapist and cardiologist), I concluded the stars are not aligned for me to tackle this adventure.  It was with relief that I wrote back to Dr. Fisher to tell him the disappointing news.  He was totally excellent about it though, mentioning some upcoming trips later on in 2012 that I might be in better shape to join.  I gave my mom the go-ahead to alert a fellow lymphoma survivor to the opportunity.  He applied in time and was accepted!!  I was thrilled to hear that he received the tickets and will be on his way in just over a month.

I'm busy just trying to regain a sense of normalcy, to pull myself off of the edge of pessimistic possibility on a daily basis.  I do hope, one day, to feel strong enough to take on a physical challenge (have I already mentioned how I really don't like to sweat?), just perhaps not one of that magnitude.

It is borderline ridiculous the places my cancer journey has taken us and I'm *trying to be* hopeful that by listening to my needs and searching out the next direction, my path will continue to reveal itself.  One day at a time, still livin scan to scan, mucking around down in the thick of things.


1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?