April 20, 2010
It was 2004 that I had my first serious climbing accident. It just so happened that I was 40 years old, on lead, 15 feet above my last piece of poor protection and on a route named Over the Hill. Can it get any worse than that? I was pushing my limits to the max. Thank goodness the gal that had me on belay was paying attention as she arrested my fall and prevented me from hitting the ground. I sustained a mild concussion (it looked worse than it was), two black eyes, and a lot of ugly wounds. My rescuer was Megan, a supporter and fan of the HERA Foundation and my supporter. To show my appreciation I attended one of her slide shows at Outdoor Divas where she showed photos of her 100 for HERA climb in Yosemite. The goal was to climb 100 pitches and raise money for HERA.
It was at this event that I met the founder of the HERA, Ms. Sean Patrick. Sean was the most vivacious and inspiring woman I had ever met, and unless I heard her speak at this event, I would not have known that she was fighting for her life.
When Sean reported to her doctor that she did not feel right, he promptly wrote it off to stress and encouraged her to get a hobby. The symptoms were nothing more than what every woman encounters at least once a day: bloating, gas, urinary frequency, unusual fatigue and unexplained weight loss/gain. You get the point. She persisted to seek second opinions, which most women do not do, and sadly learned that she had stage 4 ovarian cancer and a 5% chance of survival. She was told she would live five more years if she were lucky. Sean promptly called her original doctor to let him know she got a hobby and it was called, OVARIAN CANCER! Had her doctor taken her seriously, the cancer would have been uncovered in stage one and she would be with us today.
Sean decided then and there to start the Climb 4 Life program. She wanted to help women seek higher levels of self-esteem by getting them to step out of their comfort zones and to push their bodies to new levels. She believed that climbing, like riding a horse, empowers women to feel strong. Strong bodies build strong minds that result in strong women who will not think twice to question their doctor’s diagnosis. There are now on average four Climb 4 Life events a year with the next one taking place the weekend of June 11th in our backyard, Boulder, Colorado.
I am proud to work for Stonewear Designs and sponsor these climbs by outfitting the volunteers in our sport tops. We also add hang tags to all of our garments with the early detection signs for ovarian cancer hoping to increase awareness. I invite you to attend one of my upcoming slide shows at REI in Boulder CO or Denver CO. I will be presenting the story of my climb of Mt. Everest whereby I stepped out of my comfort zone at the age of 42 to join the Everest Peace Project that my husband was hired to film. It was on this climb that I met Brad and we married two years later. Join us at one of these events, as our goal is to encourage you to sign up for the Climb 4 Life!