Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0746 - Climbing towards a cure

I received notification yesterday of a fund raising initiative for the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada by a Toronto-based Remax broker named John Helfrich. John lost a good friend to colorectal cancer; another friend had extensive surgery, and his mother barely survived the disease. So John is traveling to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and climbing to the summit of the 19,336 ft. peak. He hopes to raise at least $1 for every foot of the climb.

As of this morning, John has $4701 or almost 20% of his fund-raising goal pledged. I'll add to those pledges and I hope you do the same.

I've lost two close friends to colorectal cancer and received extensive treatment myself - radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy - so I have a good sense of how devastating this disease has become. In fact, it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada.

While I wish John well on his climb and his efforts to raise awareness of colorectal cancer, like many other survivors I wish I were traveling to Tanzania myself. Looking at the photographs of the game reserves, the mountain itself, and the safaris leaves me just a little envious of those who can take these excursions.

While I am extremely grateful that there is no evidence of disease left in my body, I am also very much aware of how treatment has affected me physically. Even if somehow I were to find myself in Tanzania right now, I don't know if the physical exertion of a climb would be possible. It's not just a matter of conditioning, although that is part of it. It's also a matter of what appear to be permanent changes in bowel habits. I just can't imagine climbing a mountain and having bowel movements every two hours or less!

But maybe I'm just a victim of a lack of imagination, or even worse, of a failure of determination. Perhaps I need to be setting physical goals for myself that are more challenging than what I think I can do at the moment. After all, I haven't "peaked" yet!

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